'Surya Namaskar' has been caught in a row in Madhya Pradesh where the government wants to set a world record of collective performance of the yogic exercise tomorrow with the opposition dubbing the move as an attempt to "saffronise" education and Muslim clerics issuing an edict calling it "idolatry", banned in Islam.
The BJP-led government's decision of creating a world record with thousands of students together performing the 'Sun Salutation' on Swami Vivekananda's birth anniversary has both main opposition Congress and the clerics up in arms.
Leaders of the minority community were first to react, terming the move as "un-Islamic" and equated it with idol-worship, which is prohibited in Islam. They also issued a fatwa in this regard yesterday which was ratified by Shahar Qazi Sayyed Mushtaq Ali Nadvi.
The Congress followed suit describing it as part of the government's "saffron agenda".
"Instead of focusing on improving quality of education and educational infrastructure, the government is wasting resources on organising exercises like Surya Namaskar as a part of its saffron agenda," leader of opposition in the state assembly Ajay Singh said.
Introduction of Bhagwad Gita in the curriculum was a similar attempt made by the government to saffronise education, he said.
Unfazed by the criticism, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and School Education Minister Archana Chitnis said 'Surya Namaskar' was a yogic exercise aimed at improving health but went on to add that tomorrow's programme was not mandatory.
"The Sun is neither saffron nor green," said Chitnis.
The school education department has made elaborate arrangements with directives issued to all government and government-aided schools to ensure maximum participation in the event in order to set a world record.