United Nations: The First International Day of Yoga was celebrated at the United Nations on Sunday, 21st June. The Function, held under the threat of heavy rain, was presided over by the External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj and attended by the UN Secretary General, the President of the 69th UN General Assembly, diplomats and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
The 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted by acclamation draft Resolution A/Res/69/131 in December 2014, with a record number of 177 countries cosponsoring it. The Resolution established the International Day of Yoga for observance by the United Nations on 21st June each year. The idea for declaring an International Day of Yoga at the United Nations was formally proposed by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, in his maiden address to the 69th UNGA on 27 September 2014.
The UN celebration featured a special lecture cum demonstration by the Founder of Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The event was broadcast live globally on UN TV, as well as to an audience of thousands at Times Square, New York, where another celebration of the Solstice Day was observed with thousands performing yoga exercises.
Around 250 persons participated in the yoga conducted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon along with his wife led the group of participants. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Ambassador Asoke Mukerji and Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay were joined in the yoga exercises by dozens of diplomats at the UN.
The Prime Minister had said: “We need to change our lifestyles. Energy not consumed is the cleanest energy. We can achieve the same level of development, prosperity and well being without necessarily going down the path of reckless consumption. It doesn’t mean that economies will suffer; it will mean that our economies will take on a different character. For us in India, respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism. We treat nature’s bounties as sacred. Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
The Prime Minister had indicated that 21st June, one of the two solstices, which is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, has special significance in many parts of the world, and could be considered for adoption as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations each year.