President Ram Nath Kovind performed yoga along with his Surinamese counterpart Desire Delano Boutersel while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj joined the celebrations at the European Parliament as yoga practitioners across the world today performed ‘asanas’ to mark the fourth International Day of Yoga. President Kovind, who is in the Surinamese capital Paramaribo on the second leg of his three-nation tour, and Boutersel wearing round neck T-shirts joined dozens of yoga practitioners in this Latin American country to perform the asanas. “Extremely happy to have participated in #InternationalYogaDay celebrations — 14,000 kms away from India — at Paramaribo with President Bouterse of Suriname. I thank all the yogis who joined us and made this event truly memorable,” President Kovind told the gathering. This was the first time that heads of two countries together participated in the International Day of Yoga.
The United Nations General Assembly in December 2014 had declared that June 21 would be observed as International Day of Yoga every year. In Brussels, Swaraj joined the yoga day celebrations at the Yehudi Menuhin Space in the European Parliament. “Yoga represents one of the most powerful means for uniting the world,” Swaraj told the gathering. “As we come together to celebrate yoga, we are also celebrating our shared humanity, recognising our shared opportunities and acknowledging our shared destiny. It is extremely heart-warming to see that India’s gift to the world has been so heartily adopted by Europe,” she said. Members of European Parliament and other important dignitaries attended the yoga celebration which was conducted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. In Pakistan, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad celebrated the yoga day as a festival of health and well-being.
Over 100 members of the diplomatic community and Pakistani citizens from different walks of life joined the guided yoga and meditation sessions at the mission. The yoga day celebrations were also held in different cities of Pakistan, including Karachi and Lahore. In Nepal, a special mass yoga demonstration was held in the premises of Nepal Police Training Academy in capital Kathmandu which was attended by hundreds of people despite rain since early morning. Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwor Pokharel, along with Indian Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri and hundreds of yoga enthusiasts, performed yoga postures in an hour-long event. A massive yoga session was held at the holy premises of Janaki temple in Janakpur where Governor Ratneshwar Lal Kayastha and Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut attended the event.
In China, Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale along with other diplomats, staff of the Embassy, yoga teachers and students of a yoga centre participated in a colourful yoga event in Beijing. Over 500 yoga lovers turned up to take part in over hour-long special yoga workout at the old Indian Embassy premises. “I would say tens of thousands took part in China. But millions will be doing in their way either individually or in smaller groups,” Bambawale said. The day is celebrated in 25 to 30 cities in different parts of China with larger turnouts, he said, adding that the popularity of yoga is going to increase not only in India but also in China. In Bangladesh, around 10,000 people attended the ancient Indian discipline at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka. In Gulf countries, yoga day celebrations were held in Manama (Bahrain), Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ajman in UAE.
The UK also marked the yoga day with a series of yoga sessions attended by members of the Indian diaspora and the wider public. The day began with a yoga session at the Indian High Commission in London, followed by a special event in the UK Parliament complex. UN ambassadors, diplomats, spiritual leaders, members of civil society and children participated in a flagship Yoga Day event organised yesterday by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. They enthusiastically participated in the two-hour long yoga session with the theme of ‘Yoga for peace’, performing different yoga asanas and exercises on colourful yoga mats spread across the expansive North Lawn in the UN Headquarters. “Today’s world is incredibly complex. We are challenged by an erosion of our core values and in many walks of life stress is given, delusion prevails especially amongst our youth…Yoga, deriving from the Sanskrit word of unity, is so very apt for the United Nations,” Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, said in her address yesterday to mark the fourth anniversary of the International Day of Yoga.
Voicing her deep appreciation to India for organising the yoga day event, Mohammed underscored the importance of yoga in the overall well-being of individuals and even in various aspects of the world body’s functioning. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, who joined those gathered in performing yoga exercises and asanas, said yoga has become even more relevant as the world is recognising the critical importance of moving towards more sustainable lifestyles, in tune with surroundings and more in harmony with nature. An exhibition on yoga was inaugurated in the UN building on June 18 and will run through June 22. As in past years, yoga postures were projected through lasers on the North Facade of the UN Headquarters Building.