Yoga Day: Muslims join in, say they feel rejuvenated

New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Like any devout Muslim during the holy month of Ramzan, Irfan Salmani Dehalvi, 42, woke up shortly before dawn, had ‘sehari’, the early morning meal before beginning the fast, and offered prayers. On Sunday, ‘seheri’ was followed by a mass session of yoga at Rajpath where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in attendance.

“It was a welcome change to come here for a yoga session early morning while fasting. After today’s experience, I will include yoga in my daily workout regime,” Dehalvi, dressed in a traditional white coloured kurta-pyjama and skullcap, told IANS.

Dehalvi, who is president of All India Jamaat-e-Salmani, said yoga was not contrary to the teachings of Islam.

“People who have spread such lies have a malicious intent. There is nothing wrong with Muslims doing yoga. It’s a natural workout that helps us fight many diseases and infections and keeps us healthy,” he said.

“In fact, most of us don’t even have any reservations in doing Surya Namaskar as well. The matter was unnecessarily blown out of proportion,” he opined.

Agreed Irfan Mirza, 40, a computer spare parts shop owner from Lal Kuan area of the walled city.

“We greet our Hindu friends with a namaskar. So, why would we have any problem with Surya Namaskar (the sun salutation asana that is considered a complete exercise in itself)?” said Mirza as he limbered up on one of the 37,000 pink, blue and green coloured mats that made for a pretty spectacle on Rajpath that stretches about two km from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“But we can’t bow before the sun,” he added.

Among the thousands gathered at Rajpath – the venue of the main event in the national capital that saw participation from people from all walks of life, including school and college students as well as envoys, there was a sizeable chunk of Muslim residents of Delhi, especially from the Walled City, who joined in.

And for many, the experience was unforgettable.

“I never thought yoga could be so refreshing. As I am fasting today, I was a bit apprehensive about working out, but I am feeling rejuvenated,” said Khalid Qureshi, 39, a businessman from Sadar Bazar, after the 35-minute event concluded.

“I am now curious to learn more about this wonderful activity and will definitely encourage others to start practicing yoga as well,” he said.

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