New Delhi: The AYUSH Ministry on Tuesday said chanting of 'Om' and other Vedic mantras before the yoga session on International Yoga Day on June 21 is not compulsory but voluntary.
"There is no compulsion to chant 'Om' before the yoga session. It is completely voluntary and one can remain silent. No one will object," AYUSH Ministry Joint Secretary Anil Kumar Ganeriwala said.
Ganeriwala’s 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 International Yoga Day controversial, he said that though chanting of 'Om' is an integral part of yoga, there is no norm to make it compulsory.
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.
Speaking on the issue, senior Janata Dal-United leader K.C Tyagi said: "This (chanting Om) is an interference for the Sikhs, Muslims and Buddhists. This should not be made compulsory."
Actor Anupam Kher said: "The word 'Om’ is associated with yoga. It’s better if we do not turn it into a controversy."