Yoga tour for foreign professionals under shadow of Nipah in Kerala

Doctors and relatives wearing protective gear carry the body of a Nipah victim during his funeral at a burial ground in Kozhikode, Kerala.

Fourteen deaths due to the Nipah virus (NiV) in Kerala seem to have dampened a nine-day Yoga Ambassadors Tour in the state for 140 professional practitioners from across the globe.

Only 60 of the 140 participants have confirmed participation for the tour beginning June 13, that was designed by the union ministry of Ayush and Kerala government as part of the countdown to the International Yoga Day on June 21.

American and German nationals have written to the organisers raising concerns about visiting the state which is grappling with a deadly infection.

“We got a couple of emails asking us about the situation in the state and we told them that north Kerala, which is the affected part (due to Nipah virus), is not in the itinerary,” said Anish PK, president, association of tourism trade organisations, which is one of the tour organisers.

The participating yoga professionals are from the UK, US, Italy, South Africa, Germany and Singapore.

“The other participants could have dropped out because of logistical reasons as they were supposed to fund their tickets and visa. I would say it is the domestic crowd that is more affected by the scare, but we are responding in detail to each query that we have received on the subject,” Anish said.

Ranjit Kumar, joint secretary, Ayush ministry, said they had spoken to the state government and were assured that “the disease was well contained, and there was no reason to panic”. “The tour will be conducted as planned,” he assured.

The tour is aimed at achieving the larger agenda of Ayush ministry and Kerala government to develop a yoga and meditation circuit in south India. Vivekananda Rock in Kanyakumari and Dolmen Caves in Munnar, Kerala, are among the places identified for the circuit.

“We designed this specific tour because the number of foreign tourists visiting south India for yoga and meditation was growing each year. We took the proposal to the ministry of Ayush almost a year ago and they agreed to support it, and this year we kick-start the tour with the Yoga Day,” Anish said.


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