Brimming with excitement and energy, Delhiites gathered in large numbers at various parks and public squares across the city today to mark the third International Day of Yoga, even as pre-dawn showers played a bit of a spoilsport. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the country-wide celebrations in Lucknow, where an estimated 55,000 enthusiasts, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, stretched an extra muscle in various yogic postures. In Delhi, the third edition of the celebrations played out at several venues — from open plazas in central Delhi to old municipal parks and sprawling gardens in other parts of the city.
Union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Vijay Goel, Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also took part in the celebrations. NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and senior BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi also joined in. The streets of Connuaght Place’s Inner Circle, where vehicular movement has been restricted, wore a festive look as old and young, dressed in colourful attire, pulled and stretched to perform various asanas.
Mats were also rolled out at the six radial roads of the famed market place, Lodhi Garden, Nehru Park, Talkatora Garden and Children’s Park at India Gate, under the aegis of the New Delhi Municipal Council. Though rains in the early hours had turned the mats soggy, the number of people joining the celebrations, continued to build up. As the day progresses, the number of people participating in the celebrations, which also includes mega yoga sessions at DDA parks, is expected to reach 10,000 across the city.
The day, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2014, was also celebrated at the Red Fort lawns by a huge gathering. Elaborate security arrangements were put in place in the city to ensure no untoward incident. The city too wore a festive look as various striking yoga-themed murals were created at various places in the run- up to the celebrations, transforming drab metal sheets at building construction sites and dreary walls of municipal parks into bright canvases.
The latest artwork, the most ambitious one, which was completed yesterday, is an over 10,000-sq ft mural depicting the meditative asanas of Surya Namaskar in the backdrop of Delhi’s famed monuments. The eye-catching artwork has been executed on metal sheets at a construction site near the AIIMS flyover. Several central government ministries also hosted events in their office premises for their employees. The major events by DDA were be held at District Park, Sector- 11, Dwarka, Swarn Jayanti Park, Rohini and Yamuna Sports Complex in east Delhi.
The three municipal corporations of Delhi are also holding events to mark the day. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation at Ajmal Khan Park, the South Corporation at Talkatora Stadium, the East Corporation at its headquarters in Patparganj. “Two big screens have been set up at Ajmal Khan Park to beam live telecast of Yoga Day celebrations in Lucknow,” a senior civic official said. Restrictions on vehicular traffic and parking areas in Connaught Place’s Inner Circle, ordered closed from 11 PM, June 19, would be lifted at 11.30 AM.
Entry and exit points at the Rajiv Chowk metro station will be closed till 08.30 AM for the Yoga Day celebrations. The centrepiece of the first International Day of Yoga celebration on June 21, 2015 was New Delhi’s Rajpath. The event made it to the Guinness World Records with 35,985 participants performing asanas at one venue and 84 nationalities being part of it. Last year, the main function was in Chandigarh.