The Indian diaspora in the US joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi and diplomats from across the globe on the spacious north lawn at the U.N. headquarters to celebrate the International Day of Yoga on Wednesday, June 21. Modi kicked off the first public event of his US visit by performing a variety of yoga poses with a large number of people from 135 nations, thus creating at Guinness record.
Among many first-time yoga participants was an attendee from from San Francisco, Bhriguraj Singh.
Singh told indica, “It was an honor to participate in the Guinness Record event. People from 135 nations performed yoga, led by PM Modi.” Singh says he got up at 3:30 am and reached the UN headquarters in New York at 6 am. “I have never practiced yoga before. But, now, I am motivated after seeing 2000 people and Modi ji doing yoga. I feel enthused and revitalized.”
Among other participants at the event was California-resident Nandini Tandon. “It was an excellent convergence of a global family. I woke up at 4 am, did suryanamaskar, pranayama, and sadhna in Brahma Muhurta. The Mayor of New York Eric Adams stressed the need for yoga in today’s world. Children from different ages and backgrounds were on the stage with the lead yoga instructor to showcase the universality of yoga. UN leaders complimented the PM for bringing yoga to the international stage,” Tandon said.
Dr Smita Joshi, who lives in India, was all pleased to attend the International Yoga at Day event the UN. She told indica, “Yoga means to unite. At the celebration of the 9th International Day of Yoga, the largest democracy and oldest democracy have united and this will work for the betterment of the planet.”
Ashok Bhatt was one of the enthusiastic participants from San Francisco. “This is an important visit for the modernization of the manufacturing sector in India. This is the second Indian PM to be hosted by the US President at a state dinner and this has huge implications for the two largest democracies of the world,” he said.
Modi in his speech said that yoga is for all ages, portable, and its practice is accessible to all faiths and cultures. “It is a very old tradition, but like all ancient Indian traditions, it is also living and dynamic,” Modi said. “Yoga is truly universal. While yoga is a means to physical fitness, mental calm, and emotional contentment, it is not just about doing exercise on a mat. Yoga is a way of life,” said the 72-year-old Prime Minister of the world’s most populous nation. Modi alighted in New York for his first state visit on Tuesday, June 20.
The International Day of Yoga celebrations on the UN campus created a Guinness world record for the greatest number of people from different nations gathering for a yoga session. A representative from Guinness declared that with 135 nationalities participating, the event set the record for the most nationalities gathering for a single yoga session.
In a tweet, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that in a divided world, yoga unites millions of people across the globe, for whom it is a source of strength, harmony, and peace. Responding to the tweet Modi tweeted: “Fully agree with @UN Secretary General @antonioguterres on the importance of Yoga. May Yoga Day bring us all closer and improve the health of our planet.”
“Yoga is free from copyrights, free from patents, and free from royalty payments,” Modi said at the International Day of Yoga celebrations at the UN headquarters. Modi also welcomed the medical and scientific research on yoga. “I’m delighted that many of you are working on scientifically validating the different aspects of yoga. Yoga comes from India and it has a very old tradition. But like all ancient Indian traditions, it is also living, and dynamic. Yoga is a way of life, a holistic approach to health and well-being, a way to mindfulness in thought and action, a way to live in harmony with self, with others, and with nature,” he added.
Modi on June 21 paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi’s bust at the United Nations headquarters, and said: “Had the honor of paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at his bust in the UN Headquarters. His enduring message of peace, non-violence, and harmony continues to guide and inspire us, and stands as a beacon for the world.”
(with inputs from IANS)