The Yoga Day cut across the barriers of international borders and was celebrated with great fervour across the globe on Tuesday with more than 135 countries joining the celebrations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, dressed in a white tracksuit, called yoga a “people’s mass movement” as he took to the mat Tuesday along with millions of others worldwide to celebrate the ancient practice.
Indian scholars believe yoga dates back 5,000 years, based on archaeological evidence of poses found inscribed on stones and references to Yogic teachings in the ancient Hindu scriptures of the Vedas.
“Through the United Nations, International Yoga day is being celebrated throughout the world. The whole world supported it whether it was developed or developing nations. Every section of the society supported it,” the 65-year-old premier said.
“There are several days celebrated by UN, including World Cancer Day, World Health Day, World Mental Health Day, and several others. In the field of sports, there are several days which are celebrated. But this (IDY) is the only, which has direct relation with health and also with physical, mental and social health,” he added. “I think, this speaks about the power of this heritage, identity of this heritage which was given by our ancestors.”
In the national capital, more than 10,000 people gathered at Central Park in the heart of Connaught Place and the circular road around it, making it one of the largest yoga shows in the city.
School students, teachers, government employees, political leaders, police and paramilitary officials as well as volunteers from NGOs, all sporting white T-shirts and blue and white trousers, performed the yoga postures on red and blue mats rolled out on the lawns.
Sessions were also held around the world, including at the Sydney Opera House, where colourful mats were spread outside the Australian landmark, while Afghans and foreigners gathered at the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Union minister of state for defence Rao Inderjit Singh said the world was celebrating International Yoga Day by rising above religion. Taking part in yoga exercises in Shimla, he said even Muslim countries were celebrating.
“India became the first country to spread yoga across the world,” he told reporters.
Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal also took part in the event amid cloudy conditions in the Himachal Pradesh capital along with Rao.
“Yog means connecting people... Sixteen out of the 193 countries would also soon adopt yoga,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dhumal said.
Yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust said 152 yoga camps were organised across the state in which thousands of people participated.
Similar events were held across Madhya Pradesh at the district, block, panchayat and municipality levels. A state-level event was held at the Lal Parade Ground, in which hundreds of people participated, including Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani, political personages, administrative officers and students.
In Gujarat, nearly 2,000 pregnant women set a record by performing yoga in Rajkot, as nearly 1.25 crore people took part in the second International Yoga Day celebrations held at around 40,000 venues across the state.
Chief minister Anandiben Patel along with governor OP Kohli and many other religious and spiritual leaders were present at state-level celebration held at GMDC ground.
“Nearly 1.25 crore people today participated in this second edition of International Day of Yoga, celebrated at 40,000 different places across Gujarat,” Patel told the media after the event.
In many parts of Mumbai and its suburbs, thousands turned up in schools, colleges, open grounds and other places with their yoga mats and took part in the sessions, some of which started at dawn.
The Indian Navy completed a three-week capsule to train 25 personnel and popularise yoga among thousands of its sailors and civilians while over 2,000 took part in a yoga programme at Kohli Grounds.
Shammi’s Yogalaya Foundation in suburban Powai organised what is billed as India’s first three-day yoga festival where experts conducted workshops on yoga styles, wellness and health practices and meditation techniques, with the grand finale at Nehru Centre, Worli, on Tuesday.
The University of Mumbai joined hands with a Lonavala-based Yoga Institute to train a batch of teachers who also conducted practice sessions for the staffers, in city colleges and in 310 villages across Maharashtra that have been ‘adopted’ by its NSS cadets.
(With inputs from agencies)