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Modi leads Yoga Day celebrations (VIDEO)

The global event has been marked on June 21 each year since an India-drafted UN resolution was passed in 2014

International Yoga Day celebrations were held across India and beyond on Friday, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was recently re-elected for a third consecutive term.

Modi took part in the event in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir union territory, bordering Pakistan. According to a report in The Times of India, around 7,000 people joined the prime minister for the gathering beside Dal Lake, a tourist hotspot.

Posting on X (formerly Twitter), the Indian leader urged people to make yoga a part of their daily lives. “Yoga fosters strength, good health and wellness,” Modi stressed, adding that wherever he goes, global leaders ask him about it with “curiosity,” and that the world is looking to yoga as a power for “global good.”

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices rooted in ancient Indian philosophy, and is believed to build strength and flexibility while reducing stress.

Modi pitched his proposal for ‘Yoga Day’ at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014, a few months into his first term in office, after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured a parliamentary majority.  Addressing the UN General Assembly, he claimed that “by changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, [yoga] can also help us deal with climate change.” 

The list of co-sponsors of the UN resolution prepared by India, to make June 21 International Yoga Day, included the US, Canada, France, Russia, and, notably China, which was among major the Asian powers to support India’s move. The resolution was eventually approved in December 2014.

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Since then, Yoga Day has been celebrated every year at the UN headquarters in New York. Last year, the Indian PM led the event, as it coincided with his state visit to the US. 

On Friday, Modi’s cabinet ministers have traveled across the country take part in the celebrations. Home Minister Amit Shah led a Yoga Day gathering in Gujarat, his home state. He described yoga as a “precious gift of Indian culture” and said the entire world has adopted it as “an integral part of daily lifestyle.”

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who led a celebration in the national capital, featuring diplomats from embassies in New Delhi, said “developing yoga enthusiasm and awareness around the world has been an inspiration.”

India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh practiced yoga with army personnel in Mathura, a historically significant town in Uttar Pradesh state. 

Yoga was also performed by soldiers deployed at the freezing heights of Siachen Glacier (union territory of Ladakh) in the north, in the coastal areas of Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu state), and on the Andaman Nicobar Islands, the Indian Army said in a statement. 

Modi is not the first Indian premier to use yoga as a tool of government policy. Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister, was a frequent practitioner of yoga, and in 1952 tabled a resolution to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) stating that yoga should be a part of India’s health education.

“This old and typical Indian method of preserving bodily fitness is rather remarkable when one compares with more usual methods [of exercise],” Nehru wrote in his autobiography, ‘The Discovery of India.’

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June 21, 2024 at 03:45PM

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