There is great enthusiasm among diplomats from around the world and UN officials for the International Day of Yoga celebrations to be led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, according to India’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ruchira Kamboj.
As workers were busy on Monday for the celebration at the North Lawn of the UN headquarters campus, Kamboj said that about 1,800 diplomats and officials have registered for the event.
Modi will be starting off his US visit at the Yoga Day celebrations and head to Washington.
While in New York, he will also be meeting “a cross-section of prominent personalities and leaders,” according to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra.
This will be Modi’s eighth visit to the US as Prime Minister, but his first state visit that carries a higher level of pomp and circumstance — like a welcoming 21-gun salute and a state dinner.
He will also be addressing the joint session of US Congress for the second time.
Modi said that the theme for this year’s event is “Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “Yoga for the Welfare of All as One World-One Family”.
Modi personally leading the celebration has increased the interest in and enthusiasm for the event, Kamboj said.
UN General Assembly President and Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has tweeted that she looks forward to being with Modi at the yoga event.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be away in Paris for the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, but will be sending a video message to the celebration.
The ninth International Yoga Day, which will include mass yoga exercises, will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. New York Time (5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. IST) on Wednesday and will be videocast on the UN network.
Modi will not be attending the yoga celebrations scheduled to be held at the Times Square.
The annual event with the participation of the consulate, civic groups and yoga organisations is called “Mind over Madness Yog”.
In his address to the UN General Assembly in 2014, Modi suggested declaring June 21 — the Summer Solstice which is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere — as the International Day of Yoga.
He linked yoga to both health and climate change.
He said yoga “is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature”.
He added that it could lead to “changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change”.
Asoke Mukerji, who was then India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, worked feverishly to mobilise support for it and got it unanimously approved in a record time of less than three months in December.
The first Yoga Day was celebrated in 2015 and has been held every year, even in the middle of the Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021 when it went virtual.
Yoga Day has become an international celebration with group practices and asana demonstrations across the globe.