It was only three years ago when India carved out a niche in annals of history on 21st June 2015 by holding the biggest ever open-air yoga camp with a maximum number of international community members on the sprawling lawns of Rajpath on the first International Yoga Day (IYD), proclaimed on its initiative.
Now, taking lead from India following its expertise in the centuries-old science, many nations mark the day with gusto, and many of them have imbibed the art in daily chorus amid anxiety-ridden lives in the competitive world.
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi says it should be a matter of pride for any Indian that India proposed before UN the idea of the International Yoga Day and it was approved.
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On the first event itself, the country had been awarded two Guinness World Records in two different categories. Category 1 was for the largest number of participants in a Yoga Lesson at a single venue. The earlier record was of 29,973. To beat that record a target of 30,000 was required. Yogis broke that record as 35,985 participants performed Yoga at Rajpath that morning.
Category 2 was the most number of nationalists in a Yoga Lesson. To achieve that, at least participants from 50 countries were required to perform. But that day participants from 84 countries performed Yoga at Rajpath. Mr. Shripad Yesso Naik, then MoS. Ministry of AYUSH and Secretary AYUSH received the awards which were presented by the representatives of Guinness World Records Ms. Victoria from the UK and Mr. Marco Frigatti from Italy. Also present on the occasion were Yog Gurus, Mr. Guru Malladi, coordinator of EY Company. India’s proposal for the IYD was supported by as many as 177 countries for the first time in the history of UNO (United Nations Organisation) and the resolution was passed within 100 days.
Mr. Modi, in his first year in office, addressed the 69th session of UNGA on 27th September 2014 and had urged the international community to celebrate Yoga day.
On 11th December, the 193-member UNGA had approved the proposal by consensus with record 177 countries, including 47 Muslim nation cosponsors, clearing a resolution to establish June 21 as ‘International Yoga Day’.
Now, more than 250 cities across six continents in the world performed Yoga to mark the first International Yoga Day, with Mr. Modi leading the nation, along with 35,000 yogis at Rajpath and External Affairs Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj had represented India at the UN in New York. On the first IYD, Ms. Swaraj says Indians across 650 districts and 192 out of 193 countries of the globe took part in Yoga events being planned to celebrate the Day, with Yemen being the only exception because of war situation.
“Our embassy has been shifted to Djibouti from Yemen and this is the reason that we have left out Déjà vu – YOGA DAY 20 Volume 3 | Issue 3 | July-September 2018 only one country,” Ms. Swaraj said. PM had led the nation in the celebrations during the function at Rajpath, where the entire stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate had turned into a Yoga mat. More than 7,000 copies of coffee table books and 19,000 reference books on Yoga had been sent to Indian Missions abroad.
Tightest ever security paraphernalia was mounted with air cover by the Indian Air Force to thwart any disruptive design. Security was on lines of the Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations. A tight vigil was being mounted at airports, railway stations, bus stations and other crowded areas. Teaming multitude of people had done a 35-minute session of 15 Asanas at the Rajpath.
There is no looking back since that day, say, officials of the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH). The biggest challenge was to ensure the turnout much before 0600 hrs. Guinness book of records panelists had insisted that every entry should be barcoded and decoded. The event took off at 6:45 am for 35 minutes with crisp 15 popular asanas. A large LED screen was put in place to highlight motions of various exercises which include Muktasana, Makarasana, Kapalbhati, Pranayam, and meditation. The programme had started with Rigveda invocation.
Now events are being organized in various cities in different countries including Beijing, Berlin, Bogota, Budapest, Dublin, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Paris, Port Louis, and Tallinn.
The International Yoga Day is spreading across the country and at most of the places, preparations get underway months before the day. Even in mofussil places, a message is loud and clear to observe the day. Now, it is observed with festive fervor and gaiety with no political strings attached.
Many are of the firm opinion that the government must ensure that no coercive tactics are used for participation in Yoga programme. They linked it with religious sentiments, but people, in general, have rubbished grotesque comments.
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition. It embodies the unity of mind and body: thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and wellbeing,” Mr. Modi had told UNGA, setting the tone for the international yoga day proposal.
On the first edition, Mr. Modi, had announced the arrival of a new yoga era, with the first International Day of Yoga being observed across the world. Leading a mass yoga demonstration at Rajpath in New Delhi, the Prime Minister had declared that “today”, as this day was being observed in various parts of the world, the sun would not set on the community of Yoga practitioners.
He said that “today” is not just the first-ever International Yoga Day, but the beginning of a new era that would inspire humanity in its quest for peace and harmony. The Prime Minister had recalled the contribution of ancient sages, yoga gurus, and practitioners across the world through the ages, for making Yoga what it is, “today”. He said that as mankind advances in various spheres of development and technology, individual human beings must progress too, and Yoga offered an avenue for this. Yoga is not merely an exercise but offered an opportunity for balancing the mind and body and could help harness an individual’s inner strength.
Yoga is widely considered as an “immortal cultural outcome” of the Indus Sarasvati Valley civilization dating back to 2700 BC – and has proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual uplift of humanity.
A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Sarasvati Valley civilization with yogic motifs and figures performing yoga sadhana suggest the presence of yoga in ancient India.
In 2016, the Prime Minister celebrated the second International Day of Yoga at Chandigarh, where he joined approximately 30,000 participants in a mass Yoga demonstration. Addressing the gathering at the iconic Capitol Complex there, he said the people in all parts of the country have connected with Yoga.
“The Yoga Day is a day linked to good health, and it has become a mass movement. Yoga is not about what one will get, but it is about what one can give up. That with zero budget, Yoga provides health assurance, and does not discriminate between rich and poor.” PM said and stressed the need for focus, on how to mitigate diabetes through Yoga. He walked amidst people, joined and mingled with the participants of the mass Yoga demonstration. The event was marked across the world with more enthusiasm than it was on the first year.
The third International Day of Yoga in 2017, too, was celebrated with great enthusiasm across the country with mass yoga demonstrations taking 22 Volume 3 | Issue 3 | July-September 2018 place in various locations. The Prime Minister had participated in the mass Yoga event in Lucknow where he was joined by a huge number of people.
Addressing the gathering at the iconic Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan in Lucknow, he reached out to people and said, Yoga is a practice that binds humanity together and is helping countries across the world to be connected with India. Yoga is a medium to achieve wellness and it has the power to provide health assurance at zero cost, he said.
The event at Lucknow was attended by Former Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of AYUSH Mr. Shripad Yesso Naik; Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Yogi Adityanath; Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Keshav Prasad Maurya; Deputy Chief Minister of UP Dr. Dinesh Sharma; State Minister (Independent Charge) Ministry of AYUSH, Dr. Dharam Singh Saini.
On the occasion of International Day of Yoga, the Ministry of AYUSH organized mass yoga programmes in Delhi in association with NDMC, DDA and eminent Yoga organizations. In Connaught Place, New Delhi, NDMC used drone cameras for aerial photography and videography of the Yoga demonstrations.
Many partnership organizations like, Art of Living, Patanjali Yoga Samiti, Vivekanand Yogashram Hospital, Brhamkumari, Isha Foundation and Gayatri Parivar participated in the Yoga day celebrations in various places in Delhi. Former Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting, Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu also participated. Other Union Ministers participated in mass Yoga events in various states. The Ministry of Home Affairs celebrates the International Day of Yoga across the country including yoga celebrations by BSF, CRPF, CAPF, units of ITBP to mark the occasion. Last year, ITBP personnel performed yoga at 19000 feet in Ladhak and at 11600 feet at the Bank of Indus River in Ladhak.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development announced the winners of the ‘Yoga Olympiad’ held in Delhi from 18th – 20th June 2017 to promote the awareness of yoga and to build up a network of schools, teachers and yoga practitioners at the national level. The awards were given in four categories which included one award each for Upper Primary – Girls and Boys; Secondary – Girls and Boys.
Last year, the Ministry of Defence-organised Yoga sessions across the country with troops of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, conducted at Pahalgam, Srinagar, Kargil. Ahmednagar, Bidar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Dehradun, Dibrugarh, Kolkata, Leh, Mangalore, Nagpur, and Sriganganagar, to name of few. The Indian Navy did Yoga sessions on board INS Vikramaditya, Shivalik, Kamorta, Jyoti, INS Jalashwa & INS Kirch in the Indian Ocean & the Bay of Bengal and the Coast Guard on board ICGS Sarathi, ICGS Samrat. Cadets of National Cadet Corps (NCC) participated in Yoga Day function at DG NCC Camp, Delhi Cantt.
The Ministry of External Affairs, through its Indian embassies abroad, celebrated the Yoga Day at iconic locations like, at the Abraham Lincoln Monument, Sylvan Theater in Washington DC, La Villette in Paris, and at the backdrop of Sheikh Zahid Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Yoga gurus conducted seminars and discussions on Yoga in many countries across the world.
Massive arrangements have been made to mark the day this year as, by next year, the country would have witnessed general elections. Polls in the world’s most populous democracy always hold mystery in womb about next ruling dispensation at the center. But as it is the international day, come what may world will continue to mark the day with more zest in tensions ridden global scenario. Moreover, Yoga is emerging as a public movement bereft of politics.