PM Modi to lead historic Yoga session at UNHQ

United Nations, Jun 21 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead a unique yoga session at the UN Headquarters here on Wednesday in a historic celebration to commemorate the 9th International Day of Yoga that will see the participation from top UN officials, envoys from across and the world and prominent individuals.

In a video message on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga, Prime Minister Modi said India has always nurtured traditions that unite, adopt and embrace and made a fervent appeal to eliminate contradictions, hurdles and resistances through yoga.

Modi said Indians have welcomed new ideas, conserved them and celebrated the country’s rich diversity.

Yoga strengthens such feelings, expands the inner vision, and connects us with that consciousness which makes us feel the unity of the living being giving a basis of love for the living being, the prime minister said.

“We have to eliminate our contradictions, blockages and resistances through Yoga. We have to present the spirit of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’ as an example to the world,” Modi said.

Modi also said the International Day of Yoga was special this year as researchers at India’s research stations in the Arctic and Antarctica too were participating in the celebrations.

Modi is here on the first leg of his first state visit to the US at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj told PTI in an interview that the yoga celebration this year will be a very “unique occasion” because it was Prime Minister Modi who had given this vision and it was his leadership that ensured that June 21 every year is celebrated as International Yoga Day.

“So about nine years later, the author of that vision comes to the United Nations,” she said, adding that now Yoga Day is a UN-mandated occasion. “So the coming together of the two- the visionary leader and the United Nations, I think, is in itself very unique,” Kamboj said.

She said that the yoga event is generating a lot of anticipation and excitement and is very heavily subscribed. “The international element is very high. There’s a lot of interest, which is in itself, I would say, a sort of attribute to yoga, this ancient Indian practice, the fact that it has transcended all borders and it has become a global phenomenon.”

Kamboj added that the “fact that there will be children performing yoga onstage is very unique. So altogether I think it is going to be quite a one of its kind event.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his message for Yoga Day, said yoga unites people. “It unites body and mind, humanity and nature and millions of people across the globe for whom it is a source of strength, harmony and peace,” he said.

“In a dangerous and divided world, the benefits of this ancient practice are particularly precious. Yoga offers a haven of calm, it can reduce anxiety and promote mental well-being. It helps us to develop discipline and patience. It connects us to our planet, which so badly needs our protection,” Guterres said.

He added that yoga reveals “our common humanity, helping us to understand that despite our differences, we are one. On this International Day of Yoga, let us embrace the spirit of unity and resolve to build a better, more harmonious world for people, the planet and ourselves.”

The Yoga session will run from 8 to 9 am on June 21 at the expansive North Lawn in the UN Headquarters, where a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, a gift from India to the UN, was installed in December last year during the country’s Presidency of the UN Security Council.

Prime Minister Modi will be paying his respects to the bust of Mahatma Gandhi that now “proudly adorns” the North Lawn of the UN headquarters where the yoga will also be conducted. “There is also a memorial to the fallen Peacekeeper which is, I think, very poignant and very significant given that India is the largest troop and police contributing country,” to UN peacekeepers, Kamboj said.

The historic yoga session is expected to be attended by top UN officials, ambassadors, envoys, delegates from Member States as well as prominent members of the global and diaspora community.

People from more than 180 countries will participate in Prime Minister Modi-led Yoga Day celebrations here, representing different walks of life and comprising diplomats, artists, academicians and entrepreneurs among others, sources said.

President of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly Csaba Kor si said in a tweet that he was “looking forward to participating in the 9th International Day of Yoga celebrations” with Prime Minister Modi.

The first International Day of Yoga was commemorated in 2015 and has since then been marked with several sessions and events highlighting the benefits and universal appeal of Yoga at the UN, Times Square and iconic locations across the world.

The UN underlined that Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness. Today it is practised in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity.

Recognising its universal appeal, in December 2014, the UN proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. The draft UNGA resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. The proposal was first introduced by Prime Minister Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.