Around 50 lakh students across Madhya Pradesh today took part in Surya Namaskar ignoring Opposition protests and fatwa by Muslim clerics even as Congress leader Digvijay Singh saw nothing wrong in the yogic exercise and said it should not be equated with religion.
"Nearly 50 lakh students across the state took part in the Surya Namaskar exercise, which is a record in itself," an official said.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan led from the front the event, which is an attempt by the state government to set a Guinness record of collective performance of the exercise.
The School Education Department had made elaborate arrangements for ensuring grand presence in the event which is being organised every year in the state since 2007 on the occasion of Swami Vivekanand's birthday.
Digvijay Singh dismissed the claims of the government as a mere gimmick saying, "There are so many issues like corruption, malnutrition, people are not getting fertilizers, electricity but the Madhya Pradesh government wants to make a world record. It's just a political gimmick."
He, however, said that the exercise should not be equated with religion.
"It is a yoga aasan. It is a form of exercise," he said.
Defending the decision to organise the event, Chouhan told reporters, "Surya Namaskar is not associated with any particular religion. It is a yogic exercise having a unique coordination of mind and body aimed at keeping a person perfectly alright."
However, he said the participation was not mandatory.
He also clarified that the exercise was not organised merely with an aim to get the feat registered in the Guinness Book of Records.
The minority community heads had strongly opposed the move and issued "fatwa" directing people not to take part in the Surya Namaskar exercise.
Opposition Congress termed the move as an attempt to please the RSS leadership as part of its saffron agenda.
The Isai Mahasangh termed the move "unconstitutional" and added that they will approach the Guinness authorities asking them not to include the state-sponsored exercise in its records as it is aimed at promoting communal discord in the multi-religious society.