Million of people across the globe on June 21 joined India in celebrating the maiden International Yoga Day, a concept first mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and endorsed by United Nations.
The response was overwhelming in India with Narendra Modi leading the show in New Delhi, and Chief Ministers and top leaders across the political spectrum also taking part in the gala event. Many other nations also showed the same zeal in embracing the ancient Indian discipline that aims at providing synergy between body and mind and help in all-round well-being.
The Government of India also decided to make yoga learning mandatory for all the teaching aspirants. Henceforth, all teachers will have to under training in Yoga to get the required degrees for getting a job in any school.
Yoga is supposed to detoxify both body and mind, and considered a sure fire way to remain healthy and fight any illness. But its benefit goes much deeper as it brings peace, agility, concentration, and help in spiritual growth of the practitioner.
Millions of school children, army men, air force and navy jawans, government employees, teachers, corporates, advocates, doctors, prison inmates, etc., joined the celebration that saw Yoga being practiced even in midair flights, and at the peak of Siachen.
Very few events in the world history would have been so universal like the international Yoga day. In New York India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj presided over the function at the Times Square while Finance minister Arun Jaitley attended the Yoga day celebration in San Francisco. Besides the glaciers of Siachen, the spiritual carnival also took place in the troubled waters of the South China Sea, Sydney’s popular Bondi beach and banks of the Thames in London. In Melbourne, Seoul, Paris, Barcelona, Athens, and Lisbon also Indians joined others to mark the “dawn of a new era of peace.”
The majestic Rajpath that stretches from the martyrs memorial at the Indian Gate Gate to Vijay Chowk, presented a rare spectacle as nearly 36,000 people – school children, politicians, high-ranking army officials, common man, and people from as many as 84 nationalities who parked themselves on both sides of the road from six in the morning itself, an hour before the function began. US Ambassador to India Richard Verma, several top bureaucrats, including secretaries to union ministries and officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) were also present.
Prime Minister Modi surprised one and all by getting down from the podium to practice yoga on a simple mat like the rest of the crowd. The show lasted for 35 minutes during which many yogic postures, exercises and pranayams were practiced under the instruction of top yoga gurus.
The entire event was video-recorded by a team of the Guinness Book of World Records. This event is going to be the largest yoga demonstration at a single venue.
Attired in a loose white dress and a tricolour scarf wrapped around his neck, Modi did most of the 21 ‘asanas’ along with the participants as part of the common yoga protocol, following simultaneous instructions in Hindi and English also beamed live on giant digital screens.
Modi expressed his gratitude to the United Nations and 193 countries for their “unprecedented support” in passing an India-sponsored resolution to declare June 21 as International Day of Yoga and said a “new era” has begun to train the human mind to scale new heights of peace and harmony.
Later, addressing a two-day international conference on yoga for holistic health at a separate venue, Modi spokes against attempt to commercialise yoga.
“If we make yoga a commodity, then maximum damage to it will be done by us. Yoga is not a commodity, yoga is not a brand which has to be sold.”
– Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The Prime Minister also asked the yoga gurus not to be engaged in the game of one-upmanship to take credit for popularizing the ancient practice, saying it belongs to all countries and all communities.
Two events of the Yoga day celebration will be etched in the memories of the masses for years to come. First, Indian soldiers practicing yoga at the frozen heights of Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world at 18,800 ft above the sea level. Second, pictures of passenger performing yoga in some domestic flight mid air were flashed on the screens.
Reports from across the world showed that tens of thousands of people took part in the celebrations. In Melbourne, over 500 people performed Surya Namaskar and Yogic exercises at the Springers Leisure Center, Sydney’s popular Bondi beach and the Australian capital Canberra also saw enthusiastic response to the Yoga Day celebrations.
In the UK, hundreds of people collected on the banks of Thames to celebrate the ancient Indian exercise. In a message, British Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“The UK is pleased to support International Yoga Day. We were one of 177 countries to vote in favour of Prime Minister Modi’s proposal and we are pleased to see the enthusiasm with which it is being embraced, both in the United Kingdom (UK) and around the world.”
– David Cameron, Prime Minister of UK
In Pakistan, because of obvious security concerns, celebrations were muted and confined mainly indoors. The staff of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and other foreign diplomats did Yoga within the four walls of the High Commission building.
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