Yoga is not a religious activity and people must embrace it for better mental and physical health, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Thousands of Indians celebrated the second International Yoga Day by performing postures of the ancient discipline across the country.
Addressing people at the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh before a mass yoga session, Modi said:“It is probably the first time that a day has become mass movement.”
Addressing some 30,000 yoga enthusiasts, he said yoga helped control the mind and help people to lead a disciplined life.
Video: PM Modi performs yoga
“Yoga is not a religious activity. Many people do not understand yoga completely. It is not what you will get from yoga but what is important is what you will give to yoga and what all (ailments) will it rid you of...It helps is getting mukti (salvation) from health issues,” Modi said, in an apparent attempt to de-link the belief among some that yoga was a part of Hinduism.
Modi said yoga was for both believers and non-believers, and there was no need to create any controversy over it.
He announced two annual awards will be given from next year: for doing exceptional work for promotion of yoga at the international and national levels.
The Prime Minister later got down from the stage from where he addressed the gathering and shook hands with differently abled yoga enthusiasts.
Over 96,000 people had registered themselves to take part in the Chandigarh event. Of this, over 30,000 were picked, including 10,000 each from Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana.
At least 7,000 security personnel, including 4,000 paramilitary jawans and 3,000 officers of Chandigarh Police, were guarding the venue in the city where prohibitory orders have been issued at several places.
The Union Territory administration, along with Ayush ministry, spent over Rs 14 crore on the event and the four-day yoga festival held in different areas of Chandigarh.
“Among all days marked by the UN, no day has equalled the mass movement the International Yoga Day has become. It has become the biggest mass movement worldwide,” said Modi, who was instrumental in getting the UN to declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day.
The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in December 2014. Over 190 countries, including 40 Islamic nations, supported the move to have a special day for yoga.
The first International Yoga Day was observed across the world on June 21 last year with Modi performing yoga along with 36,000 people at New Delhi’s historic Rajpath.
(With IANS inputs)