Yoga Day mass events in India
Exile Tibetan children practice yoga at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharmsala, India, Saturday, June 20, 2015. Sunday, June 21, marks the first International Yoga Day, which the government of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is marking with a massive outdoor New Delhi gathering. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
India marked the second edition of International Yoga Day Tuesday with several mass events across the country’s main cities, including one led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chandigarh (northwest), where he practised several postures or asanas, with a crowd of around 30,000 yoga enthusiasts.
“This is a day linked with good health and it has now turned into a people’s mass movement,” said Modi, addressing thousands of people gathered at the Capitol Complex, the state legislature building in Chandigarh, designed by renowned Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier.
Asserting that yoga “is not a religious activity,” the Indian prime minister – a regular practitioner and fervent advocate of the discipline – dissociated it from its religious connotations.
For the second edition, Chandigarh took over as the focus city from New Delhi, which had set a world record last year for the maximum number of yoga practitioners – 35,985 people, including PM Modi – gathered at a single event.
The Indian capital too, marked the day with various yoga events – although turnout was lower than last year – along with other Indian cities, including Lucknow (north), Mumbai (west), Puducherry (south) or Calcutta (east).
Around 30,000 personnel from India’s security forces also participated in the events, as seen in images of snapshots from aircraft carriers and military schools, released by the Indian defense ministry.
India hosts the main global event for Yoga Day, an initiative proposed by Modi himself, although other countries too, have encouraged the ancient Indian practice that helps in aligning the body and the mind.
“Together for oneness,” proclaimed foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swaroop in a tweet, and posted pictures of the day being marked in different countries, including Afghanistan, Australia and Italy, and an image of dozens of people practising yoga at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
A thousand-year-old eastern practice, yoga originated from the ancient “Vedas” (meaning wisdom), Hindu scriptures dating back to 1500 B.C., and which forms the basis of the Hindu religion.
Since he took office two years ago, Modi has been passionately encouraging yoga, particularly through the creation of a department of AYUSH, an acronym for ‘Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.