Goans protest Surya Namaskar by government in schools

April 26, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

The Catholic Association of GoaThe CSF has in its possession a memorandum by The Catholic Association of Goa (CAG) expressing its displeasure and strongly protesting against the mass display of Surya Namaskar (sun worship exercises) held across the BJP-ruled Goa on 18th February involving many Christian students who were compelled to ‘adore/worship’ the sun. This mass display was to commemorate the 150 years Birth centenary of Swami Vivekananda and was organized by the State Education Department along with the Director of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA), Government of Goa.

The Christians contended that Surya Namaskara quite literally means “worshiping / adoring the sun” and in the words of the secular Wikipedia, “is a modern form of sun worship”. Since Hindus believe ‘Surya’ to be a sun god (son of Dyaus Pitar), Surya Namaskara definitely amounted to sun worship in violation of the First Commandment of the Decalogue and invited divine displeasure for those partaking in it.

The CAG stated in a memorandum to the Governor of Goa and also the Chairman of the National Minorities Commission that innocent children were “forced” to participate in this program against their wishes. The Education Department’s circular to the schools was not very clear and hence almost all the schools made it compulsory for the students of IX, X and XI. ” This is totally against the religious freedom as expressed in the constitution of India.  The Physical Education teachers of each school went overboard to please the Department and DSYA and even threatened students that if they didn’t take part, then they would be barred from answering the forthcoming exams. Students who remained absent for the day, were given ‘remarks’ on their school calendar and asked to get a Doctor’s sick note. This is harassment and against religious freedom “, the CAG memo added.

In the BJP ruled state of Madhya Pradesh, the Catholic Bishops’ Council of Madhya Pradesh filed a petition in the High Court against the MP government’s compulsory ‘sun worship’ (surya namaskar) for minority Schools. The government then gave an undertaking in the High Court that sun worship or Surya Namaskar is voluntary for the schools & students and hence thereafter the case was withdrawn. It was mentioned that ‘besides the Catholic Church, the Muslim community in the state too opposed the introduction of similar yogic exercises in their schools saying that it was against the tenets of Islam. The MP Government had come up with the idea of introducing the exercise in schools in 2007 to help students to remain physically and mentally fit. It had at that time termed it as just an exercise session which had nothing to do with religions. But both the minority communities opposed it, saying it was part of the BJP government’s divisive policy and gave the impression that it was promoting the Hindu religion.

The Catholic Association of GoaAccording to The CAG, ” one cannot impose / enforce his beliefs on another, specially the young impressionable minds of students and it definitely infringes on the freedom to practice one’s own beliefs & worship. Surya namaskar should not have been made compulsory. The schools and the students should have been given clear (visible) freedom (without any hidden threat) to participate or not to participate. Also these mass surya namaskar programs are dangerous, as, if not done properly under expert supervision, they can lead to blindness as has happened in many cases in the past “.

The CAG condemned the move of the Goa Education Board and DSYA for infringing on the religious rights of the young innocent students as children and their concerned parents underwent mental torture and harassment and a feeling of guilt and fear for many days. In fact, it was reported that many children and parents spent sleepless nights and almost all Catholic children who took part in it, understandably went for the sacrament of Confessions for breaking the First Commandment of God.

The group called for an investigation and take action to be taken against all those found guilty of forcing children to participate in this mass display of surya namaskar on 18th February, so that such things are not repeated again and the children and their concerned parents are spared the mental torture, with a feeling of guilt and fear.

Mathew 18:6 – But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.

– joseph lr vaz

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