Report: Mega Yog Show
India scripted history on June 21 by leading the world in Yog Day celebrations. For Indians, within the country, it was the day of celebrating a national festival with equal furvour. The participation of around 200 countries, including Islamic countries, and thousands of governmental and non-governmental organisations shows that the world is going to enter into a new era of peach and well-being.
Historic Rajpath in New Delhi turned into Yogpath on June 21 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation for the first International Day of Yog celebration with strong 36,000 people. Rajpath was opened to public to public at 4.00 am, but the people started reaching there much earlier. The entire 2km stretch from Rafi Marg crossing near Vijay Chowk to India Gate was lined with blue and red mats over green carpets with people of all ages twisting, bending and stretching on the ceremonial road performing various Yog exercises. Buses were lined up along almost all roads around Rajpath. The performance began with ‘Om’ and the recitation of Sanskrit shlokas.
RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for organising the Yog at large scale. Shri Bhagwat joined the celebration at the Nivedita Shiksha Sadan in Varanasi. RSS Sah Sarkaryavah Shri Dattatreya Hosbale was also present on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion he said, “It is a proud moment for India that 177 countries practised Yog today.” He said Yog is one of the rich heritages of Indian culture and it is not just a physical exercise but it brings people together. He said Yog is not just a physical exercise but is also a medium to connect the people mentally and physically. He said Yog has already been spread in the world by our sages and rishies centuries back.
Describing Yog as a journey from ‘I to We and Self to Universe’, Shri Modi said it did not matter to him where Yog originated and to which country it had spread—the only thing which matters is that on Sunday (i.e. 21.6.2015) “Rajpath had become Yogpath”. “Yog has been enriched by the contributions of people from across the world, and I bow to all of them. It is important to understand that Yog is not just physical exercise, the physical part is just the prelude to the actual thing—like musicians test instruments before the actual musical programme,” he said. “We are not only celebrating a day but we are training the human mind to begin a new era of peace—Sadbhavana… . This is a programme for the benefit of mankind, a tension-free world and a programme to spread the message of Sadbhavana,” he said adding that “In a world of fear, Yog promises strength and courage. We live in a world that is divided, in a world in conflict over material gains, a world in conflict over failures to understand each other. How shall we understand each other, if we do not understand ourselves.”
Two New Guinness World Records were created on the day— for the most individuals, and individuals from the largest number of nationalities—in performing the exercises at a single venue. In the evening , the Ministry of Ayush was awarded both the world records by Guinness World Records (GWR) officials at a ceremony in Delhi. Marco Frigatti, head of the global records management team at the GWR, described the feat as “an astounding achievement, a very rare one”. The earlier record for the largest number of participants at a Yog session was set in 2005, when 29,973 students from 362 schools performed yogic kriyas in Gwalior. At least 50 nationalities needed to have joined in at Rajpath to qualify for the second record.
Several top bureaucrats, including secretaries of union ministries and officials from the Prime Minister Office (PMO) were present. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung were among those who performed Yog on Rajpath as four Yog teachers— Baba Ramdev, Dr HR Nagendra, Swami Atmapriyananda and Hamsaji Jaidev—looked on.
Apart from the main event at Rajpath, High Commissions and Embassies of India in 192 countries across the world organised events to commemorate International Day of Yog. The only country where there was no celebration was Yemen, where the war has forced the Indian mission to move to Djibouti. United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, dressed in a tracksuit provided by the Indian mission to the UN, joined hundreds of students and Yog practitioners to perform asanas and mediate under the guidance of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
In a brief video message played at the UNHQ, Prime Minister Modi said, “India’s priceless legacy is today world’s legacy… For the welfare of mankind, we must connect with our legacy of Yog because this legacy is man’s legacy. This is world’s legacy, your legacy, and this is your responsibility to handover the legacy to the coming generation.”
There are reports of celebrating the day with huge furvour across the country. However, the Congress Party distanced from the celebration, people across the country joined the celebration for their personal betterment.
In Kerala, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu joined the celebration in Kochi. He said Yog and Ayurveda were very much prevalent in Kerala much before they became popular elsewhere. Union Minister of Law and Justice DV Sadananda Gowda participated in the celebration at Aruvikkara in Thiruvananthapuram District.
Union Minister Shri Kalaraj Mishra held a Yog session with a large number of people at Bharat Mata Mandir in Varanasi. He said practice of Yog was famous as it cures many diseases and helps people to stay fit. A large number of people including the BJP workers practised Yog at Assi Ghat. Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar's Art of Living members also held special Yog session at the Assi Ghat.
(With inputs from T Satisan in Kochi, VSK Karnataka, Varanasi)
Unity for ‘Universal Well-being’
The world joined India on June 21 in commemoration of first International Yog Day. The day witnessed the rising Sun rays carrying the images of asanas and the chants of ‘Om’ across the globe from Tokyo to San Francisco and Sydney to Oslo when millions joined the celebrations of the first International Day of Yog. It was a proud moment, especially for Indians living abroad as multitudes responded to the call for observing the Yog Day recognising its universal appeal and echoing the endorsement received for the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal in the United Nations.
Many organisations including the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Art of Living and various local organisations took lead to organise huge events for the Yog day in various countries. In a huge gathering of about 6,000 at the University of Nairobi – Convocation Grounds, people practised asanas and Suryanamaskar and meditation. Other demonstrations performed were Flute Calming Music, Yog for Kids, Yog Dance, Yog Acrobats Show and a Kenyan Cultural Dance.
Dr Hassan Wario (Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts of Kenya) said, “Yog is the science of activation our inner energies in such a way that our body, mind and emotions function at their highest peak. Kenya is proud to be part of the 175 countries observing the Yog Day. Let us not limit to observing the day only on June 21st but also practice it in the daily life to see the real results.” He concluded the speech by performing the Halasana (plough pose).
Others who also spoke were Dr Evans Kidero (Governor of Nairobi County), Shri Yogeshwar Verma (High Commissioner of India), Prof MF Mbithi (Vice Chancellor, University of Nairobi), Prof Miriam Kamadi Were (Chancellor, Moi University, Roberto Paioni – Italian Consulate). Other cities in Kenya like Mombasa, Eldoret, Nyeri, Lamu, Nakuru and Kisumu also organised successful Yog day events.
At the National Stadium, Lagos, Nigerians joined the Indian community in yoga celebrations where a 2,000 strong gathering performed various Yog postures braving early morning showers. The event tagged, ‘‘Yog for Happiness,” was jointly organised by Sewa International, the Art of Living Foundation and the National Olympic Committee. Several notable sportsmen including the president of Sports for All, Henry Amike, Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Tunde Popoola and Professor Pat Utomi were present at the event.
In a programme organised by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh at Tokyo, a pictorial exhibition—Yog Gallery—was inaugurated by Edogawa Mayor Shri Hideyuki Masu. Ambassador from Nepal, Shri Madan Kumar Bhattarai delivered very encouraging speech appreciating Shri Modi’s effort for promoting Yog across the globe. Over 400 participants, majority of them being of Japanese origin were guided by 10 instructors out of which 6 were Japanese.
United States of America
More than 100 centres of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) USA organised Yog festivals in 30 cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Bay Area, Milwaukee, Houston, Bloomington, Tampa, and Phoenix to mark the day. The events attracted thousands of participants around the country. Activities included guided Yog poses, meditation techniques, and scientific presentations on the benefits of Yog, live music, and demonstrations by expert Yog practitioners. In several states, including Massachusetts, Ohio, and Illinois, governors and mayors recognised June 21 as “Yog Day” within their jurisdictions. Highlights of the Boston event included a talk by Lama Migmar Tseten, Harvard University’s Buddhist chaplain on universalism of Yog philosophy. At the Orlando event, Dr Diane Robinson spoke on the significance of Yog for preventing and treating cancer.
A book Yoga—Bharat’s Invaluable Gift to the World, written by HSS International Joint Coordinator V Ravikumar explaining the reach and influence of Yog in every nook and corner of the world was released at the hands of visiting External Affairs Minister Smt Sushama Swaraj at a function in Ganesh Temple at Flushing New Jersey. At San Francisco Bay area event Finance Minister of India Shri Arun Jaitely was the chief guest.
Australia soaked itself in the Yog fervour with Yog events registering an overwhelming response across many cities of Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide and Perth. Sydney, the Yog capital of Australia, witnessed its tryst with spirituality at the iconic Bondi Beach and the multicultural hub Parramatta. Participants at the Bondi Beach started their eventful day with the sun salutation or Suryanamaskar and also took part in the popular Hatha Yog, Laughter Yog and Meditation. Lord Mayor Parramatta Scott Lloyd, Julie Ovens, the Federal Member of the Parliament of Parramatta, Alex Hawke, Federal Member of the Parliament of Mitchell and other dignitaries also marked their presence to encourage the audience.
Scores showed up at the Everest Cricket Ground on Carifesta Avenue, as Guyana on Caribbean Coast joined others in celebrating International Yog Day. Members of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh spearheaded the celebration as part of their “I love Guyana” project in association with Cove and John Hindu College, Akshardham Ashram and many others. The event featured many different Yog exercises showcased by a variety of specialists. Participants exclaimed that the event was an inspiration to their lives. Many quipped that they are now ready to incorporate what they have leant into their daily routines.
In Bangkok, the International Center for Cultural Studies, Thailand, together with the world famous Mahidol University, organised a one-day Yog work shop for physical education teachers from schools all over Thailand. Shri Harsh Vardhan Shingla, Ambassador of India to Thailand, inaugurated the workshop. The Vice Chancellor of Mahidol University, Prof Preecha Soontranan and the venerable monk Buddhacharan, head of Siam Thep Ashram, Chaingmai were the chief guests.
One of the biggest event organised by Indian embassy UAE in association with organisations like Friends of India, Raja Yoga Center witnessed over 16,000 people performing Yog at Al Wasl sports Club, Jaddaf, Dubai. Attending the event were boxing champion Mary Kom from India, Indian Consul General Anurag Bhushan and Major General Nasser Al Razooqi, UAE Karate and Taekwondo Federation president.
Similar events were organised at places like Paramaribo–Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Munich, Chemnitz in Germany, Italy, Cyprus, UK, Yangon, Batu Caves and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Singapore, etc. It was gratifying to see several organisations like Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Sewa International, Art of Living, Chinmay Mission, Brahma Kumaris, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Gayatri Parivar, Patanjali Yog Peeth came together to organise such mega events in association with local communities, temples, Indian embassies and others. —Organiser Bureau
North-East Celebrates Yog Day
The International Yog Day was celebrated across North-Eastern part of India at various locations with numerous events organised to mark the occasion with full enthusiasm, including some colourful processions.
In the land of crystal clear rivers, and lush green pines, the International Day of Yog was observed at over 14 venues across Meghalaya on June 21, 2015. Personally, I was happy in participating and encouraging people in three places. North-East Hill University, Shillong celebrated the day by organising Yog sessions in its campus auditorium with large number of participants. Colleges and schools took active part in Yog on this day throughout the State. NCC created a record for the largest Yog performances at multiple venues. The cadets performed Yog from 7 AM to 7.35 AM at all 14 venues. Out of the 4,958 participating cadets from the entire State of Meghalaya, a total number of 2,055 cadets assembled to do Yog exercises here at the Garrison Ground, Shillong. Army public School, Umroi Cantonment observed International Yog day with nearly 300 students and staff participating in the event.
The Assam Rifles organised Yog for soldiers and their families at Laitkor Garrison and other garrisons of the Force. Over 1,000 people participated in the Yog session. In Nongrim Hills, many socio-cultural organisations took active part in observing the day. Devotees of Baidyanatheswar Shiva Temple at Nongrim Hills joined the countrymen to celebrate the International Yog Day at the temple premises. The Yog Camp was organised by city based Sree Narayana Guru Cultural Centre.
Various social service organisations took the initiative to celebrate the day. The initiative was taken with an understanding that since family problems, financial crises, difficult life situations all take a toll on a child’s psyche, Yog would help in giving relief from countless ailments. The day was observed in all the educational centres of these organisations.
Villages like Laitlyngkot, was also energised with Yog enthusiasts. Situated amidst the picturesque hills is the Kyntiew Shaphrang School, Laitlyngkot where a large number of students displayed their skill of Yog. The concept of Yog is not very old here, the students emanated a lot of enthusiasm and made Yog young. In Nongpoh, Ri-Bhoi District, the Nehru Yuva Kendra, organised the ‘District Level Yog for Harmony and Peace’ at Ri Bhoi College with over 300 students participated in the event. The Alpha English Higher Secondary School, Nongpoh in collaboration with Ramkrishna Mission, Cherrapunjee also observed International Yog Day.
In Tura, West Garo Hills, two separate events were held to observe the day. One of the events was organised by Marwari Yuva Manch, in collaboration with the Sadananda Yog & Cultural Centre. They organised a Yog camp at DC Park. The other event was organised by the Boarder Security Force (BSF) at BSF campuses of Dobasipara, Danakgre and Praharinagar. More than 750 BSF men took part in the Yog camp.
The International Yog Day was also celebrated at various Air Force, Army, Para-military and Police establishments across Meghalaya. More than 3,000 personnel, ladies and children participated in the event.
At Gorkha Training Centre, more than 1,500 officers and their families attended a special Yog programme to celebrate the event. The Day was celebrated across North -Eastern part of India at various locations with numerous events organised to mark the occasion with full enthusiasm, including some colourful processions. The main functions were held at State capitals viz Shillong, Kohima, Aizawl, Imphal, Dispur, Agartala, Itanagar and Gangtok and other district towns where thousands of schools students, National Service Scheme (NSS) and National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets, police personnel, voluntary organisations and people from all walks of life organised colourful procession followed by performance of Yog asans. Seminars were also organised. People spoke about the day to day usefulness of Yog. To make people’s mind tension free, healthy and responsible, performance of Yog asans is very essential. Yog asans also make people to do good work for the well-being of the citizens. n