Muslim girls to lead yoga program in Patna

Patna (Matters India): Two young Muslim “yoga gurus” chosen to lead a top of level Yoga Day program in Patna on Sunday say they want to give such lessons to India’s President and Prime Minister.

Reshma Khatoon and Bismillah Khatoon will make Amit Shah, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and others to twist and turn to their commands at Patna’s Moinul Haque stadium on International Yoga Day on June 21.

A few federal ministers are also expected at the sessions led by the teenagers.

The girls made the headlines after being chosen to impart yoga lessons to Shah and others

The girls’ close bond with yoga has come to the notice of the federal government, which has been making the point there is no reason why yoga should be anathema to religious minorities.

Several Muslim bodies have opposed the Yoga Day and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India have objected holding it on a Sunday, a sacred day for Christians.

The girls from Lal Saraiya village of West Champaran are hoping that teaching yoga to the BJP chief will be their first step in a long journey.

Reshma, 16 and the elder of the girls, told Hindustan Times that she wants to give yoga lessons to Prime minister Narendra Modi. Fourteen-year-old Bismillah’s pupil of choice would be President Pranab Mukherjee.

The two girls were in the middle of preparing for Yoga Day program at Maharaja stadium in Bettiah, West Champaran district, some 150 km northwest of Patna, the state capital.

They are excited about going to Patna for main event on Sunday.

The young sibling said she would be happy to go to Rashtrapati Bhavan. “He lives in a big palace in Delhi. I will feel very happy to go there and teach him yoga. It will improve his health,” said the tenth grader.

Reshma sais on the Yoga Day she would begin with surya namaskar (salutation to the sun), teach pranayam (breathing exercise) and then move on to other yogic asanas (postures).

Reshma has been practicing yoga since 2012 after being inspired by her parents, while Bismillah has been doing it since 2010. Bismillah said she was just nine years old when she started.

“I want to teach 10 asanas (to Amit Shah),” said the younger but more experienced girl.

The families of the two girls live in a colony for Bengali refugees who migrated to West Champaran from the erstwhile East Pakistan during the war of 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

“We call the colony yoga village as all the 1,500-odd families residing there know yoga, thanks to the effort of one man, Ashok Sarkar, who also lives there,” said Krishna Mohan Prasad, the head of the West Champaran unit of the Divya Yoga Mandir run by Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth.

“It is Sarkar who taught yoga to Reshma and Bismillah, who come from the only two Muslim families in the Bengali settlement,” Prasad said.

It is “Sarkar sir” who will accompany the two girls to Patna.

“Both girls are highly skilled in yoga and have represented India at international competitions and camps, including those in Australia and South Africa. Yoga doesn’t differentiate between human beings on the basis of religion,” said Ajit Kumar, in-charge of Patanjali Yogpeeth in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Kumar said more than 20,000 people are expected attend the yoga event in Patna on Sunday and around 8,000 will be present in the Moinul Haque stadium.

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