UN readies for Yoga Day

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The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Yoga for Women Empowerment’ and it will be featured on the North Lawn of the UN headquarters, reports Arul Louis

Citizens from around the globe will gather on Friday to show the uniting power of yoga across boundaries and divisions as the world organisation celebrates the 10th International Day of Yoga.

The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Yoga for Women Empowerment’ and it will be featured on the North Lawn of the UN headquarters where diplomats, UN officials and employees, and aficionados of the ancient art will perform asanas in synchronicity.

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed is expected to participate in the event and a video message from General Assembly President Dennis Francis is anticipated.

The global celebrations with millions participating every year were set in motion by the General Assembly in December 2014 when it declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in a resolution proposed by India, cosponsored by 175 countries and adopted unanimously.

The date was chosen because the Summer Solstice falls on that day in the northern hemisphere most years, although it is a day early this year and next.

The yoga celebration is here at 6 p.m. New York Time (3:30 a.m. IST Saturday) will be webcast by the UN.

With a blazing temperature of 35 degrees Centigrade, it will be held on a day that is forecast to be the hottest so far this year.

India’s UN Mission is cosponsoring it with the UN Secretariat.

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the yoga celebration at the UN and it made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for the most nationalities — 135 — participating in yoga practice at one place.

On the day of the Solstice, Thursday, the annual ‘Mind over Madness’ event will be held at Times Square with day-long yoga sessions creating an island of calm and serenity amid the cacophony and the bustle of the place known as ‘the Crossroads of the World’.

India’s Consulate General is one of the sponsors of the event that runs from 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. and features seven yoga classes run by instructors of several ethnicities and national origin showing yoga’s universality.

Modi presented the idea of an International Day of Yoga in September 2014 at his first address to the General Assembly, declaring, “Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition”.

Asoke Kumar Mukerji, who was then the permanent representative, rounded up the 175 cosponsors cutting across international divisions and had it adopted within three months — likely a record for the quickest passage of a resolution at the General Assembly.

Indian embassy organises yoga session

Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in the US organised a Yoga session in Washington, DC ahead of the 10th edition of the International Day of Yoga.

A large number of people participated in the yoga session on Thursday organised at The Wharf in Washington, DC.

Sripriya Ranganathan, Deputy Ambassador at the Indian embassy in the US, said that India has brought yoga to the centre stage.

“The role that India has played in bringing this centre stage, taking it to the UN and making this a day in which we come together to recognize the power of yoga and to recognize how yoga can add value to our lives and how yoga is very contemporary,” she said.

Since 2015, the International Day of Yoga has been celebrated across the world annually on June 21, following its adoption by the United Nations in 2014.

Ranganathan further said that it goes back 5000-6000 years, however, it remains so current.

“It’s an ancient tradition. It’s a wellness tradition that goes back 5000, 6000 years, but it remains so current,” she said.

The Deputy Ambassador further stressed that the value of yoga has now far more appreciation, adding that it has become a part of every family, community and institution.

“There is far more of an appreciation of the value of yoga. It’s become really a part of every family, every community, every institution to start thinking about how yoga can bring value to their lives and to help the members of that community and their families in dealing with the challenges that we face in the world today,” she said.

Ranganathan added that now, even young people and students are also very involved in this and look at yoga as a wholesome and holistic tradition.

“I see wherever I go in the US that young people, students, particularly kids in college…are very involved in this. Initially, they come in in terms of seeing this as a physical fitness tradition. But I think they move on very quickly to see what a wholesome and holistic tradition,” she said.

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