Tens of thousands of people of all races and ages are expected to participate in more than 25 events across South Africa next week to celebrate the third International Day of Yoga (IDY). After a proposal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his September 2014 inaugural speech at the UN, 177 countries, including South Africa, co-sponsored the resolution that was passed in December that year to declare June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. Acting Indian High Commissioner S Janakiraman today announced details of a wide range of events to mark this year’s celebrations, which have grown exponentially since they were first hosted for just one day in 2015.
“This year, the Indian High Commission in South Africa along with the consulates in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, in collaboration with various Yoga schools and other stakeholders, will be celebrating the IDY at various venues, culminating on June 25 at the major Indian areas of Laudium near Pretoria and Lenasia, as well as at Tolstoy Farm,” said Janakiraman. The Sunday after the official IDY on June 21 has been chosen for convenience to allow people to travel to the main events.
At Lenasia, veteran Gandhian activist Mohan Hira has organised hundreds of school children for a yoga camp at the stadium there, while a host of dignitaries from the political, cultural and religious fields are expected to gather for talks and yoga exercises at Tolstoy Farm, which was established as a self-sufficient commune by Mahatma Gandhi during his stay in the country at the turn of the 19th century. In the mainly Black township of Soweto, a huge yoga event with schoolchildren is being planned by the Art of Living Foundation.
Zulu leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, 88, who has participated in every IDY so far, has confirmed that he will again join hundreds of yoga enthusiasts expected on the Durban beachfront. At Laudium, the yoga event will be hosted by the Tamil Association of South Africa, the Telugu Association of South Africa and India Cares, all representing the large expatriate Indian community in the country.
“The Yoga Day performances will be guided by yoga teachers and yoga experts at all these venues,” Janakiraman said, adding that that IDLY would also be celebrated in the neighbouring Kingdom of Lesotho. Consul-General K J Srinivas said his office is coordinating an essay-writing competition with the theme of Yoga and Healthy Living.
Srinivasa lauded the national public broadcaster, South African Broadcasting Corporation, for joining IDY this year with a special yoga session as well as the introduction of regular yoga classes at its headquarters. “This attention from the media will go a long way towards entrenching yoga as a healthy lifestyle project for everyone, and simultaneously help dispel the myth about its association with any particular religion,” Srinivasa said.