A world record was created in Rajasthan’s Kota where over a lakh people got together to perform ‘asanas’ while similar energy and zeal was on display at events across states as big-wigs stretched and twisted along with millions of citizens on the 4th International Day of Yoga on Thursday.
The day also saw controversy as BJP ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar did not participate in an event, which was inaugurated by Governor Satya Pal Malik and attended by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, raising many a political eyebrow.
Tennis star Sania Mirza, meanwhile, earned praise from Union Women and Child Minister Maneka Gandhi for doing pre-natal yoga. Mirza, expecting her first child in October, had posted a photo of herself performing an ‘asana’ on Twitter.
A major event of the day was in Kota, otherwise known as a hub of coaching academies for entrance exams.
Yog guru Ramdev led the record-breaking yoga session, attended by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and her ministers, in the presence of two officials from the Guinness World Records.
“A total of 1.05 lakh people performed yoga together at RAC ground in Kota,” an official said. The previous record was of 55, 524 people performing yoga in Mysore in 2017.
Executive officers in India on behalf of the Guinness Book of World Records — Swapneel and Ribika from London — presented the certificate to Raje and Ramdev.
“The largest yoga lesson was achieved by Government of Rajasthan, Patanjali Yogpeeth and District Administration at Kota (all India), at Kota, Rajasthan, India on 21 June 2018,” the certificate mentioned.
The camp started at 5 am and 15 yoga exercises of protocol for world record were performed from 6.30 am to 7 am.
As many as 4, 500 inspectors were deputed to keep a close eye over the massive demonstration while drones in the air also tried to keep count of the numbers.
In the eastern state of Bihar, the absence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar from an event turned into a controversy. Both ruling JD(U) and BJP tried to downplay Kumar’s skipping an event which was inaugurated by Governor Malik and had top BJP leaders including Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad present.
The JD(U) said Kumar had been practising yoga daily, even before June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations, adding “it would be wrong to attach any political meaning to personal decisions”.
Prasad and Deputy CM Modi insisted the presence or absence of a public figure at an event must not be politicised.
Thousands of people, meanwhile, took part in the International Yoga Day celebrations at the Patliputra Sports Complex in Patna. Speculation was rife that Kumar would take part in the celebrations this year, following his return in August last year to the BJP-led NDA.
In Varanasi, a group sought to use the occassion to highlight the problem of air pollution by performing ‘asanas’ wearing masks.
All participants had put on masks, not only to prevent themselves from the poor air quality, but also to create awareness among the people about pollution, lead campaigner for Climate Agenda, Ekta Shekhar said.
In Mumbai, 15,000 Navy personnel and their family members rolled out their mats to perform various asanas. The personnel stretched themselves not only on decks of ships but also in submarines beneath the waters, while following the ancient Indian discipline.
Some Navy personnel performed exercises on the decommissioned destroyer vessel Viraat, currently decked in Mumbai.
In New Delhi, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi performed prenatal yoga asanas along with pregnant women and advised them to practice the ancient Indian fitness regime under trained professionals.
Tennis ace Mirza came for special praise from the minister after the former posted a picture of herself doing an ‘asana’.
“International Day of yoga or any other day, #PreNatalYoga is my way of keeping fit during pregnancy .. What’s yours? @MinistryWCD and @ManekaGandhiBJP (sic),” the tennis star posted on Twitter, along with the photo.
Gandhi lauded Mirza for following the ancient Indian fitness regime during pregnancy.
The day was observed across Haryana and Punjab with Union minister Smriti Irani and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar participating in programmes in Chandigarh and Jhajjar respectively.
In Ahmedabad, around 750 differently-abled people joined Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in doing exercises based on the ancient Indian discipline.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu advocated inclusion of Yoga in school curriculums to “create a healthy nation”. Naidu participated in an event at Mumbai’s Bandra Reclamation Sealink Promenade where Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was present.
“The practice of Yoga is important for positive thoughts. If it is included in the school curriculum it is possible to create a healthy nation. Yoga also helps in relief from stress due to the changing lifestyles,” Naidu said.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, in Amravati, said everyone should practice yoga for a complete and healthy life free from stress.
The day was celebrated in Sikkim with Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling leading hundreds of people in performing asanas. In other states including Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Nagaland and Jharkhand, yoga events saw enthusiastic participation. TEAM ADS