Bhopal: Despite stiff opposition to the 'Surya Namaskar' exercise, a record number of 50 lakh students across Madhya Pradesh on Thursday took part in it, with State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan leading from the front.

The School Education Department has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring grand presence in the event which is being organised every year in the state since 2007 on the occasion of Swami Vivekanand's birthday (January 12).

"Nearly 50 lakh students across the state took part in the Surya Namaskar exercise, which is a record in itself," official sources said.

Defending the decision to organise the event, Chouhan told reporters after the exercise, "Surya Namaskar is not aassociated with any particular religion. It is a yogic exercise having a unique coordination of mind and body aimed at keeping a person perfectly alright."

However, he said the participation was not mandatory.

He also clarified that the exercise was not organized merely with an aim to get the feat registered in the Guinness Book of Records.

Large number of students took part in the sun salutation exercise in the entire state with Ministers leading it at divisional and district headquarters.

The minority community heads had strongly opposed the move and issued "fatwa" directing people not to take part in the Surya Namaskar exercise.

Main Opposition Congress also termed the move as an attempt to please the RSS leadership as part of its saffron agenda.

The Isai Mahasangh also issued a statement terming the government's move "unconstitutional" and added that they will approach the Guinness authorities asking them not to include the state sponsored Surya Namaskar exercise in its records as it is aimed at promoting communal discord in the multi-religious society.

(Agencies)