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A Portugese guru Amrta Suryananda, not Modi behind the idea of Yoga Day

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

As the world is preparing to celebrate the first International Yoga Day on 21 June, not many people are aware that Portugal based yoga guru- Jagatguru Amrta Suryananda is the man behind Yoga day idea.

Amrta Suryananda Maha Raja, who is the head of the Yoga Portuguese Confederation, was the first one to conceive, propose and celebrate the event way back in 2001.

Suryananda learned yoga from Swami Krishnananda at his ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. Later he set up his own ashram on the outskirts of Lisbon.

Indian Express reported that he had visualised the event as a day, marking the beginning of the millennium, without bloodshed and highlighting the importance of life and diversity.

H R Nagendra, the vice-chancellor of the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, was influenced by the idea of Suryananda. Reportedly Nagendra used to give yoga lessons to PM Modi in the 1980s.

As per the report Nagendra told Modi about the need for taking the idea of World Yoga Day forward. The PM then pursued it to a logical end and the outcome was the UN resolution declaring June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

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Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

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1300 applicants after the new rule came in. Wikimedia commons
1300 applicants after the new rule came in. Wikimedia commons

In India, earlier it was mandatory for Muslim women to travel with mahram if they wanted to go for Haj. However, now Muslim women aged above 45 will now be allowed to go for the pilgrimage without ‘mahram’ in a group of at least four.

“1300 Muslim women have applied to perform Haj without ‘mahram’ and women from different parts of the country from Kerala to north India, have expressed their wish to go for the Haj pilgrimage,” said PM Modi on Mann Ki Baat.

A five-member panel

Earlier too, Centre had recommended women above 45 years to embark on haj pilgrimage in a four-member group without a male relative.

A committee was formed by Union ministry of minority affairs to review the existing haj policy and suggest a framework for new rules for 2018-22. It listed several recommendations which included permitting women to go for the pilgrimage without a male relative.

1.4 lakh people from India participate in Haj every year. Pixabay
1.4 lakh people from India participate in Haj every year. Pixabay

Controversy

In his last Mann Ki Baat address of the year on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to Muslim women, highlighting his government’s attempt at facilitating women’s travel for Haj pilgrimage without a male companion.

“For decades, injustice was being done to Muslim women but there was no discussion on it. Even in many Islamic countries, this practice does not exist,” the PM said.

“Our Ministry of Minority Affairs issued corrective measures and we eased this restriction by phasing out a tradition that had been in practice for the past 70 years,” Mr. Modi pointed out.

However, many claims that these rules are made by Saudi Arabia, not the Indian Government.

“It is the Saudi Haj authorities that have allowed any Muslim women above 45 years from any country without a Mehram to do Haj. It does not behoove the PM to take credit for what a foreign govt has done,” said AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi.

Saudi Arabia had updated the rules on haj back in 2015, as their embassy website shows.

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