New Delhi : The central government may have been emphasising on yoga recently to mark the International Day of Yoga on June 21, but it had actually first tried to focus on it through a set of four stamps released by the Department of Posts in 1991, which now stands forgotten.
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.
Philatelic expert and member of World Association for Philately, Pradip Jain, however, said that the Department of Posts issued a stamp in 2009 on Maharshi Patanjali, revered for his book 'Yogsutra' (a compilation of aphorisms on yoga practice).
The stamp on Patanjali in the denomination of Rs 5 depicts the sage himself, his 'Yogsutra', a person meditating and 'chakras' (power centres in the body according to yoga) and herbal medicines.
"Stamps can help in popularising yoga, but unfortunately not much attention has been given on it. Apart from India, China is the only country to release stamps on yoga.
We are hoping that the UN releases stamps on yoga to commemorate the International Yoga Day on June 21," Jain said.
The Chinese postal department released a set of eight stamps portraying famous yoga guru B K S Iyengar doing various 'yogasanas'. The eight stamps were released on the occasion of China-India yoga summit at Guangzhou between June 17 and 19 last year.
Meanwhile, the Department of Posts is bringing out a set of two stamps and a miniature sheet on the International Day of Yoga.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release them at a function in New Delhi.
Director of Posts for Bihar, Adnan Ahmed said though the stamps are being released in New Delhi, they will be available for sale on counters in Patna as well.