International Yoga Day: Modi kicks off global event, Pakistan joins in
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) participates in a mass yoga session along with other Indian yoga practitioners to mark International Yoga Day. Photograph: (AFP)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated the benefits of yoga in Lucknow on the occasion of International Yoga Day in Lucknow.
"Yoga, which connects body, mind and soul, has played a big role in connecting the world too," Modi said in a heavily-fortified Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan, later adding that yoga was necessary as salt is to life.
The prime minister's comments comes after people around the world are set to participate in yoga events in India and around the world. In India, alone, there will be some 5,000 events to mark the third edition of the yoga day.
The Lucknow event, an 80-minute affair, is one of the biggest yoga events in the country and even intermittent rain fail to dampen the spirits of yoga enthusiasts in Lucknow and around the country.
Wearing a white tee and loose trousers, Modi perfomed several asanas with the 51,000-odd people attending the event.
"Earlier, Yoga was only restricted to saints and seers in the Himalayan mountains. Now, it has become part of every person's life," he said.
The premier also said how problems of all magnitude could be tackled with if everyone did yoga for about an hour.
"It is not important to perform yoga for 24 hours. 50 or 60 minutes (is fine) because it lends harmony to the body, mind and intellect. If 1.25 billion Indians and people around the world can attain this state of well-being, then humankind can also tide over problems born out of human thoughts," the 66-year-old said.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who is attending the event, also enumerated the merits of practicing yoga.
"Yoga is an ancient Indian practice and all ancient scriptures including the Vedas have accepted the importance of yoga. Yoga is a way of life and helps to unite people," he said.
Huge LED screens were set up at the venue for people to easily follow the sanaas being demonstrated on the stage.
Three years back, the Indian prime minister had persuaded the United Nations to mark June 21 as the International Yoga Day.
The Indian missions around the world will hold yoga sessions to propogate the benifts of yoga, which is believed to have started in India some 5,000 years back.
The first two functions of the International Yoga Day were held in New Delhi and Chandigarh. In the inaugural edition, Modi performed yoga with 200 million people across the country.
Hours later, yoga guru Baba Ramdev claimed that nearly three lakh people in Ahmedabad did yoga together -- a world record.
Several high-profile BJP leaders including Amit Shah were also present at the venue.
But some people feel that Narendra Modi's administration -- perceived to be a nationalist one -- is pushing yoga to forward its Hindu agenda.
A few Muslim leaders have also raised their concern in the past, saying yoga went against Islamic thinking.
But that didn't deter Pakistan from joining in on the third edition of the yoga day.
Although the celebrations remained largely muted due to Ramadan, some Pakistanis came out to show their support for yoga. Some said they would hold it on a grander scale after Eid.
Yoga enthusiasts performed asanas at major landmarks around the world. From China's Great Wall to the London Eye, people performed yoga to underscore its benefits.