Some preferred to do their own thing

What would you have done on a ‘normal’ Sunday morning? Slept? Relaxed in bed? Spent a lazy day? But what do you do when the Government of India chalks out elaborate plans to make you get up early, take the mat and practise your way to a healthy body and mind, as happened on June 21, the ‘special’ Sunday?

The International Day of Yoga gathered momentum when the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014 adopted Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led resolution to recognise the art of yoga. Supported by over 177 countries of the UN, World Yoga Day came to represent ‘world’s largest mass yoga programme ever in history’.

In the run-up to the event, what hogged news space were controversies about Yoga having ‘Hindu’ roots and ‘promotion of BJP led Hindutva ideology’; the massive preparations across government offices, schools and such institutions; the debates and the overall excitement over India being the focus country et al. To ensure that the June 21 event remained on top of the mind were a deluge of messages through SMSes (Short-Messaging Services), emails, messenger application WhatsApp, along with advertisements in newspapers, television channels and radio stations which left social media platforms buzzing with activity.

The reactions were varied ranging from humorous to acerbic, appreciative to critical, with many social media users terming the ‘yoga message bombardment’ an ‘intrusion’. A Twitter user Abhinandan Kumar wrote, “First few messages made me happy but getting five to seven messages daily was irritating.”

While the Ministry of Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) under Department of Health was aiming at a Guinness Book of world records with performance of mass yoga asanas, people’s mobile phones were inundated with ‘Practise yoga to live healthy’ messages.

Twitter user Gaurav Mehra, while linking these messages to spam mails wrote, “Five messages a day. Are we practising spamming instead of Yoga?” Others went on to suggest that mega events generate a lot of curiosity but overdoing publicity would not help the cause.

“If a person wants to be part of the event, she will be, irrespective of the messages,” 25-year-old Svati Arachelvan tells Metrolife. Few others saw it as a reflection of the present
government’s ideology and beliefs.

Sarah Jacob, a 22-year-old social media enthusiast feels that the, “Hindutva-oriented government is trying to promote too much of yoga. Enough promotion has already been done on television.”

While some like 26-year-old Aakriti Kohli disapproved the strategy, terming it as ‘intrusive’ in her Facebook post, others talked about why they like yoga but not the constant reminders.

Yet, many voices were in support. Abhishek Sauda, a 21-year-old says, “These messages are creating awareness to practise the art and it will help in lifestyle changes by making the elderly, young and middle-aged active.”

“Each and every action has an equal and opposite reaction and users in social media nowadays, just want to seem funny by being sarcastic. Memes, trolls and nasty comments are all part of the game,” Suresh Somanadhan, 63, tells Metrolife.

Reportedly, with a combined budget allocation of Rs. 205.36 crore on Yoga, Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Homeopathy in the financial year 2015-2016, the government seems to have made it a top priority. But many others still questioned the over-the-top promotions.

Twitter user Shantanu Kanhe complains, “We get prompt bulk SMSes for Yoga Day and elections. Why can’t it be for incessant rains in Mumbai? It is a wastage of tax payer’s money.” Some others could not understand the ‘commotion’ over the day itself.

As the International Day of Yoga drew to a close with reportedly more than 37,000 government officials and citizens celebrating it at Rajpath in the Capital with the Prime Minister at the helm and millions of people across other Indian cities and the world, there were many who chose to have a casual Sunday.

“I went to church because Sundays are for worship there,” said Jerlin, 24, who attended a church at Connaught Place. A Twitter user, Vikas Chawla wrote, “Sundays are for sleeping and pending work.”

Incidentally, this was the longest day of the year or the Summer Solstice as well as Fathers’ Day and World Music Day. So, while some like 22-year-old Priya Baid chose to spend it with friends at a music concert, few others had special celebration with their families. “Yoga day or no-yoga day, Sundays are for friends and family,” Baid summed up.

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