Before International Day of Yoga there were yoga stamps

If you haven’t gotten the various messages, let’s repeat them:

  • Sunday is the first International Day of Yoga, pushed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • Lots of people are seeing it as a way for India to tighten its claim on yoga
  • Lots of other people are seeing it as an effort to turn India into more of a Hindu country and not a secular democracy
  • It’s also just a nice excuse for lots of media to do stories on yoga

To that last point, here’s a nice quirky addition. Turns out, this yoga day isn’t the first time the Indian government tried to emphasize yoga. The last time — and this will date the effort — involved postage stamps:

The set of four multi-coloured stamps in the denominations of Rs 2, 5, 6.5 and 10 were issued on December 30, 1991, depicting yoga postures – Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Ushtrasana and Utthita Trikonasana – respectively.

“That was a time when yoga was not popular among the masses and Swami Ramdev had not emerged on the horizon. The India Security Press at Nasik printed 10 lakh pieces each of these four stamps showing perfect postures. They were meant to take yoga to people through letters and there was no brouhaha over it anywhere in the country,” said N K Agrawal, philately expert and life member of Philatelic Congress of India.

Talking to PTI, Agrawal rues that the stamps now stand forgotten and are now known just to a few stamp collectors and dealers.

“The stamps were circulated and then disappeared. Yoga was not replicated on stamps in India after that. This particular set of four stamps now fetch around Rs 500 in the market,” Agrawal said.

Click the link to see a photo of all four stamps. The yogis don’t look too ancient.

Posted by Steve