As the International Day of Yoga (IDY) is on 21st June, the Narendra Modi government has launched extensive preparations to mark the third IDY at a much greater scale than previous two years, Particularly in North America, Europe and China.
This year’s celebration is not just to spread awareness about India’s civilization ethos and strengthen the country’s soft diplomacy. But to put a check to the cultural appropriation of the ancient Indian practice by what is termed ‘western Yoga’.
The ‘western Yoga’, is gaining immense popularity in the western nation and does not acknowledge the significance that Yoga has with the ancient Indian culture. The western Yoga also focuses only on mere physical exercises that are bereft of yoga’s meditation and spiritual essence.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 21st June as the International Day of Yoga at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s imitative.
The Indian Embassies and consulates in North & South America, Europe, Australia and China are leading the way to hold month longs Yoga events that have already started and will go on till the third week of June.
In 2015 and 2016 the IDY was marked as a daylong event.
Indian Embassy and consulates in the United States have partnered with local Indian cultural organization to make the event a success.
The Indian Embassy in Washington D.C., has partnered with the “Friends of Yoga,” which is a group of organization that include Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation, Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Brahma Kumaris, Swami Ramdev’s Patanjali, Hindu American Foundation, Association of United Hindu and Jain Temples, Gayatri Pariwar and other Indian community organizations.
The HSS greatly supported the holding of Yoga day in 2015 and 2016, but this is the first time where the Indian Embassy has brought HSS and Patanjali on board as “officials partners” on its dedicated website for the event at dcyogaday.org
A spokesperson for RSS in Delhi said that the Indian embassies will routinely invite Indian cultural outfits to help hold events and celebrate Indian festivals.
In January, the United States House of Representatives took note of the HSS’ annual ‘Surya Namaskar Yajna’ or ‘Health for Humanity Yogathon’, which the HSS holds as part of its annual Makar Sankranti celebrations.
Not only in the United States, but across the world Indian embassies have collaborated with city authorities to hold Yoga day celebrations. In D.C., the event will be held on June 21 at National Mall. In Chicago, a preparatory Yoga event was held on May 17 and the consulate will hold the main event on June 24.
In the capital of Spain, Madrid the event will be held on June 18 and in France capital, Paris on June 17. While in Germany Capital, Berlin on 21 June.
In India, PM Modi will mark the event with 55,000 people in Lucknow on June 21. The central government is making detailed plans to have senior ministers perform Yoga in key state capitals.
In China, more than thousand people took part in a Yoga event on Saturday in Wuyi, Zhejiang province. According to the Indian consulate, the event was organized along with the People’s Government of Wuyi County.
Wuyi’s mayor said at the event that just as Buddhism had bound the civilizations of India and China together, Yoga also has the potential to promote values of harmony and peace between the two nations.
The Indian embassy in Beijing will be organizing several yoga events across the country over the next one month.
The chief of HSS, Ved Nanda has sent out an appeal to the Indian community to make the Yoga day a success. He said that the International Day of Yoga is an opportunity where “we can give back to our karmabhoomi (US) the best part of our collective inheritance –Yoga.”
He also stressed on the spiritual aspects of Yoga “As you know, Yoga is not a mere tool for physical fitness but more importantly is a beacon for individual’s upliftment,” he said. He said the Yoga Day events will involve all regardless of their race, faith, gender, nationality or any other similar barrier.
Whereas in India, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) has encouraging young people for month-long internship program for media and publicity related work for the Yoga day.