Delhi: The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH Ministry) on Tuesday said chanting of 'Om' and other Vedic mantras before the yoga session on International Yoga Day is not compulsory but voluntary.
The statement comes after reports of the central government's circular that proposed chanting of 'Om' and recitation of some Vedic mantras before the 45-minute yoga session on International Yoga Day.
Calling media media reports in this regard as an attempt to make Yoga Day controversial, AYUSH Ministry Joint Secretary Anil Kumar Ganeriwala, said that though chanting of 'Om' is an integral part of yoga, there is no norm to make it compulsory.
"There is no compulsion to chant 'Om' before the yoga session. It is completely voluntary and one can remain silent. No one will object," Ganeriwala told IANS.
Ganeriwala said that as part of changes, the AYUSH Ministry has added one new asana in the programme and extended the time of Dhyan Pranayam by 10 minutes.
It had been reported that the chanting of 'Om' and Vedic mantras had been included in a "protocol" for Yoga Day sent by the government to offices, schools and colleges.
The 'Common Yoga Protocol' released by the ministry was said to have given framework for the June 21 event and was said to include yoga postures, meditation and chanting.
It was said that the protocol had been circulated among universities, schools and offices.
Earlier, speaking on the issue, senior Janata Dal-United leader KC Tyagi had said, "This (chanting Om) is an interference for the Sikhs, Muslims and Buddhists. This should not be made compulsory."
On the other hand, actor Anupam Kher had said, "The word 'Om’ is associated with yoga. It’s better if we do not turn it into a controversy."
This year’s International Yoga Day celebrations will be hosted by Chandigarh, with the Centre deciding to shift the venue from Delhi.
The United Nations had announced the International Yoga Day in 2014 after 191 nations voted in favour of the initiative taken by India.
(With Agency inputs)