Washington/Beijing, Jun 21 (PTI) Thousands of Yoga enthusiasts from across the world on Monday took part in mass sessions and performed various asanas keeping in mind social distancing guidelines to celebrate the 7th International Day of Yoga amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
India's Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, on Sunday participated in the yoga session at the Indian House in Washington which was attended by embassy officials in-person, while a large number of people across the US joined the event virtually through Zoom and the embassy's social media handles.
Yoga has the potential to provide both health and happiness by improving the physical and mental wellbeing of the people, especially given the impact of the global pandemic, Sandhu said, kicking off the 7th International Day of Yoga (IDY) celebrations in America.
He also noted that India and the US have stood shoulder to shoulder with each other in fighting the pandemic, it said.
June 21, the Northern Hemisphere's longest day, is celebrated as the International Day of Yoga worldwide after the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 2014 a proposal mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This year’s theme for the event is “Yoga for Wellness”.
All the five Consulates of India in the US - in New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and San Francisco - are also holding various programmes to mark the IDY.
In New York, the Consulate partnered with Times Square Alliance to host celebrations at the iconic Times Square, attended by more than 3,000 people.
The International Day of Yoga is commemorated with much enthusiasm and fanfare at Times Square every year. As the city opened up following the COVID-19 pandemic, people turned out in huge numbers for the day-long celebration that included yoga, meditation and exercise sessions by renowned yoga practitioners.
The Indian community in New Jersey led the Yoga Day celebrations at the Liberty State Park. In Chicago, the Consulate commemorated IDY 2021 in Grant Park in partnership with yoga organisations in the Midwest region, wherein there was enthusiastic participation in virtual and in-person modes.
The American Academy of Yoga and Meditation, with the support of the Consulate General of India in Atlanta, is organising International YogaCon USA 2021 with 'unprecedented response', a press release said. The Consulate also held events in Florida and Puerto Rico to mark the Day.
The Consulate General of India, Houston held yoga events at Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston and at River Walk in partnership with the City of San Antonio.
In San Francisco, Consulate is holding Yoga Day celebrations at the Palace of Fine arts, besides Distinguished Speaker sessions by Vivekananda Yoga University in Los Angeles and Yoga quiz on FM radio.
In China, the Indian Embassy in Beijing held a major Yoga event on Sunday, while local Yoga institutes organised major events in several cities including Wuxi and Hangzhou cities on Monday.
The IDY is usually celebrated with enthusiasm in China, where yoga is very popular, with numerous events being organised since its inception by the United Nations in 2014.
The Yogi Yoga institute, which has Yoga training centres in many parts of China, held its major event in Hangzhou on Monday, the head of the institute Mohan Bhandari told PTI.
Bhandari along with a large number of the yoga teachers from his institute took part in the Indian Embassy event in Beijing on Monday. Indian Consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou also held similar events.
Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri and Deputy Ambassador Dr. Acquino Vimal took part in the Yoga event held at the India House in Beijing.
Considering the popularity of Yoga, China has established a Yoga college in Yunnan Minzu University in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan province in joint collaboration with India.
In Islamabad, the Indian High Commission in Pakistan organised a special ceremony on Monday to celebrate the Yoga day. The ceremony featuring Yoga enthusiasts was held at the premises of the High Commission located in the high security Diplomatic Enclave in the national capital.
'Underlining the universal appeal of #Yoga that transcends all barriers, enthusiasts from the diplomatic community celebrated the day with great fervour,” the mission tweeted along with pictures of the ceremony.
In Nepal, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu organised a special programme to observe the Yoga day.
The theme of the celebration this year amidst COVID-19 was 'Be With Yoga, Be At Home (Ghar Ghar ma Yog)', encouraging people to practice 'yoga for wellness', the embassy said in a press release.
A lecture-cum-demonstration of common yoga protocol was presented at the Swami Vivekanand Culture Centre and was broadcast live on its Facebook page. The event with voiceover in Nepali langauge was also aired live on television to take the message of yoga and its benefits to every home.
In addition, a conversation on 'Relevance of Yoga in times of Covid-19' with Yogacharya Sunil Maan was broadcast on 10 prominent Radio FM channels covering all seven provinces of Nepal, the release said.
People from across Nepal also took part in a vlogging (video blogging) and essay-writing contest organised virtually by the embassy, it said.
In Sri Lanka, over 7,000 people, including 500 Sri Lankan personnel from 150 defence establishments, across the country participated in a special yoga session led by the Indian High Commission in Colombo, an official statement said.
The Indian High Commission also tweeted a picture of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his wife Shiranthi Rajapaksa attending a yoga session.
In Singapore, the Indian High Commission on Monday observed the Yoga day, concluding nearly 190 online yoga sessions conducted over the week amid COVID-19 restrictions.
A special video ‘Yoga@75’ was premiered on social media platform Facebook by the High Commission to mark the day. The mission began its Yoga day celebrations in Singapore on June 14.
Singapore's Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim graced one of the yoga sessions at the Nee Soon Community Centre.
Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook were used to reach out to more people with the yoga sessions during the week.
In Saudi Arabia, a historic MoU was signed between Saudi Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of AYUSH on Yoga Cooperation on the occasion of International Day of Yoga.
“The signing of this MoU is a major step towards further promotion of Yoga in Saudi Arabia as it paves the way for the establishment of formal Yoga standards and courses in the Kingdom, with such a step being undertaken for the first time by any country in the Gulf region,” the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia tweeted.
Yoga events were also held in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, Australia, Bhutan and several other countries to celebrate the occasion. PTI TEAM ZH AKJ ZH ZH