Modi says yoga belongs to everyone and everyone belongs to yoga
From the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) hall to the Indian Parliament premises and from Beijing to Ranchi, thousands of people stretched and twisted, breathed in and breathed out, reached for the skies and bent to touch their toes as India and the world marked the fifth International Day of Yoga on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the observance of the yoga day at Ranchi.
The ancient wellness regime was the theme and its enthusiasts on the mat — literally — performing “asanas” simple and complex amid chants of “Om” and “Shanti” in several global capitals and across towns and villages in India.
Reminding that the ancient practice went beyond age, colour, caste and creed, and belonged to everyone, Modi said, “Yoga is discipline, dedication, and it has to be followed throughout your life. Yoga is beyond the distinction of age, colour, caste, creed, creed, cult, rich-poor, province, frontier. Yoga belongs to everyone and everyone belongs to yoga.”
President Ram Nath Kovind, who took part in an indoor event in Parliament, said in a tweet, “On #InternationalDayofYoga best wishes to all practitioners of yoga across the world. Yoga is India’s gift to humanity; it holds the key to healthy living and to that fine balance between mind and body. Do become a part of the celebration of yoga.”
In an event organised by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Union Minister Piyush Goyal and MP Manoj Tiwari, along with several other hundred participants, performed yoga at the Talkatora Stadium.
The main programme in the national Capital was held at Rajpath. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was the senior most leader on Rajpath. Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal performed yoga alongside Rajnath Singh. BJP MP from New Delhi Meenakshi Lekhi and several other party leaders too performed yoga at the venue.
The UNGA hall, where world leaders come together every year for the high-level UN session, was packed with UN diplomats, officials, yoga gurus and practitioners, children and people from various backgrounds as India’s Permanent Mission to the UN organised the commemoration of the 5th International Day of Yoga on Friday.
Addressing the large gathering, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the essence of yoga is balance, “not only within us but also in our relationship with humanity.” She said by practicing yoga, people can promote values that inspire a peaceful, environmental stewardship for the betterment of society and the earth.
In his remarks to the packed UNGA hall, India Ambassador to UN Syed Akbaruddin tweeted that it was in this very General Assembly Hall that an ancient practice of yoga was transformed into an annual global observance.
“I hope this indoor yoga session in the General Assembly Hall, the first of its kind, will reinforce the values of a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future that all you yogis are committed to.”
Akbaruddin said with climate change increasingly being viewed as an “existential crisis”, yoga provides the world a framework for managing “our needs and desires. When applied to communities and societies, yoga offers a toolkit for embracing lifestyles that are sustainable.”
Artists from Indian Raga, an Arts education startup founded at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) enthralled the audience with their cultural dance and musical performances.
Nearly 60 Ambassadors of various countries stretched and bent in different yogic postures in unison here to mark the International Day of Yoga, with many hailing the ancient practice as a “wonderful contribution” of India to the world.
The envoys as well as several senior diplomats from India and other countries rolled out the mats and performed various ‘asanas’ in a capacious hall at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in Chanakyapuri at a Yoga Day event hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in his address said, “Its (yoga’s) growing reach and acceptance is evident everywhere and I am sure particularly in the countries that are represented here.”
“By celebrating the International Day of Yoga together, we celebrate our common humanity. We are recognising that we have shared bonds. We are also acknowledging our sense of a shared global destiny,” he said.
Dominican Republic’s envoy in New Delhi and Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, who was present at the event, told PTI, “About 100 countries were represented at the event. Nearly 60 ambassadors took part in it, besides senior diplomats from other countries”.
“We appreciate that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar led the event hosted by the MEA on Yoga Day. The bonds among different countries will grow stronger with such events,” he said.
Ambassadors of Germany, Venezuela, Egypt, Israel, Bhutan, Estonia, Slovenia, Gambia, Nepal, Bosnia-Herzegovina took part in the event.
Envoy of Venezuela Coromoto Godoy, who took charge as her country’s Ambassador in May, was ecstatic after participating in the event.
“This is the first time I took part in any Yoga Day event. It was wonderful, and I feel so relaxed. I and my husband, who also attended the event, we both do yoga before starting work at the Embassy,” said Godoy, who sported a thematic white Yoga Day t-shirt.
“India and Venezuela both are very spiritual countries. I love India and its culture, and yoga is a wonderful contribution of India to the world,” she said.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, Director General ICCR Akhilesh Mishra were also present on the occasion.
In the UK, yoga enthusiasts marked the day with a session at the iconic Durdle Door stone arch, a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site on the south-western coast of England.
In Israel, over 400 people performed asanas to mark the day at the picturesque Hatachana compound in Jerusalem, with India’s envoy to Israel Pavan Kapoor asking the Israeli Government to consider making it a part of the annual calendar of events.
In Singapore, the Indian High Commission observed the International Yoga Day at the Sunlove Homes for the Intellectually Infirmed, Demantia and elderly day care centre while in Abu Dhabi, thousands of Indian expatriate residents and others participated in yoga sessions.
In Bangladesh, the yoga day celebration at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka drew around 7,000 enthusiasts joining the sessions organised by the Indian High Commission. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena tweeted a video in which he is seen performing asanas.
“I compliment my friend @narendramodi for his efforts at bringing our common heritage of yoga to the international stage. I urge all to practice yoga like me,” he tweeted.
Spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev led the yoga session of over 500 personnel and families of the Andaman and Nicobar command at the iconic Indian Navy Floating Dock to celebrate the fifth International Day of Yoga.
“Our soldiers, here in Andaman and Nicobar, miles from their families and the mainland, are putting their lives at stake to protect the nation,” Sadhguru, the founder of Isha Foundation, said in his address.
“Our activities and achievements rest upon the sacrifices of these brave soldiers. It is of utmost importance to equip them with the Yogic tools of transformation for inner well-being,” he said.
Union Minister Smriti Irani posted pictures of her doing yoga with other participants at an event in Bijwasan. “Celebrated #YogaDay2019 by performing Yoga with citizens of Bijwasan in Delhi,” she captioned the image.
Newly-appointed Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla participated in an event in Parliament premises while the Delhi Police also marked the day at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex, where the chief guest was Amulya Patnaik, the Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
Saturday, 22 June 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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