Yogis from 92 nations converge at Rishikesh for International Yoga Festival

The 29th annual, world-famous International Yoga Festival (IYF) at Parmarth Niketan, on the banks of River Ganga, which began on March 2, saw more than 1,500 participants from 92 nations.

Hon’ble Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the festival that included congratulatory statements from Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand, KK Paul; Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat; Hon’ble Union Minister of Tourism, Alphons Kannanthanam, Hon’ble Minister of AYUSH, Government of Uttarakhand, Harak Singh Rawat and Hon’ble Minister of Higher Education, Government of Uttarakhand, Dhan Singh Rawat, Hon’ble Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Prem Chand Agarwal and  Hon’ble MLA of Yamkeshwar, Ritu Khanduri, as well as the participation of numerous renowned faith leaders, dignitaries and yogacharyas from nearly 200 countries across the world.

The inauguration was presided over by H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of International Yoga Festival.

The annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan offers daily classes from 4:00 am until 9:30 pm with more than 80 revered saints, yogacharyas, presenters and experts from around the world. Ashtanga Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bharat Yoga, Ganga Yoga, and Somatics Yoga are just a few of the more than 200 different offerings throughout the week. There are also classes in meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy and spiritual discourses to be held by revered spiritual leaders from India and abroad.

Yoga, once an art restricted only to the sages of the high Himalayas, is now practiced by some 300 million people practice yoga worldwide, making Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival a tremendous draw for individuals from around the world.

The official inauguration of the event saw a beautiful and colorful tapestry of participants representing the world’s faiths, nations, cultures, races and regions as Argentinians, Afghans, Israelites, Iranians, Japanese, Kenyans, Italians, Americans, Yemenis and people from numerous other nations formed bonds of togetherness under the common flag of yoga, on the banks of the sacred River Ganga, in the World Capital of Yoga.

In his inaugural address, Venkaiah Naidu stated, “I am so glad to learn how this festival has grown and blossomed over the last nearly twenty years at Parmarth Niketan. I am also glad to see the message being propagated here that we have to preserve nature and our culture to pave the way towards our collective future. Yoga is not a religion. It is a culture and a way of life. It is the key to how our ancient civilization has stood the test of time. Yoga unites our thoughts, words and actions, our mind, body and speech. It facilitates greater unity in our society, amongst our generations and amidst our nations.”

Governor Dr. Krishna Kant Paul said, “This festival has not only been able to convey the essence of yoga but it has also been able to motivate a large number of people not only in India but also abroad to turn towards Yoga. The presence of a large of number international delegates here today and year after year is a symbol of the power of yoga and the success of the IYF at Parmarth Niketan.”

Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Rawatji said, “I warmly welcome you to Devbhoomi, Uttarakhand and I express my appreciation to Pujya Swamiji for bringing people from 94 nations to be touched and transformed by this sacred land. I am certain that during their time they will learn how to live with greater peace, happiness and contentment in their lives. Today, when the world is restless and stressed, losing their peace, in the face of this darkness, yoga is the light for peace and happiness. Yoga is true wealth of our nation.”

Tourism Minister Alphons said, “There is genocide happening in parts of the world, there is violence amongst women and children as well as the environment but amongst all this – there is one thing uniting the world and that is Yoga. That is our great legacy to the world.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director, International Yoga Festival and President, Divine Shakti Foundation, said, “When we look around the world today, we see violence, crime, war, poverty, environmental destruction. Yoga is our magic wand. If yoga, in its fullness of eight limbs as given by Sage Patanjali were truly practiced and embodied by all, the problems of our world would dissipate and even disappear. The time is now. We are the ones. Yoga is the answer.”

American Yoga Teacher, founder of Recovery 2.0, a new system of using yoga to help people recover from addictions, and renowned Author, Tommy Rosen, said, “The source of the International Yoga Festival’s success is Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, who constantly emanates love, just like the River Ganga. He is a living example of what sadhana can do. Let His example, and the wisdom learned at the International Yoga Festival draw all from darkness to light and from fear to love.”

Yoga, once an art restricted only to the sages of the high Himalayas, is now practiced by some 300 million people worldwide, making Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival a tremendous draw for individuals from around the world. The festival this year will also be blessed with the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who will attend the Ganga Aarti as well as lead a special meditation and inauguration of Parmarth Niketan’s Lord Buddha statue.

On the eve of the festival, participants joined together for a special Ganga Aarti ceremony. The first day of the festival saw a beautiful tapestry of participants representing the world’s faiths, nations, cultures, races and regions as Argentinians, Afghans, Israelites, Iranians, Japanese, Kenyans, Italians, Americans, Yemenis and people from numerous other nations formed bonds of togetherness under the common flag of yoga.

Pujya Swami Saraswatiji, President, Parmarth Niketan and Founder, International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, said, “Today is truly a historical day — people from 94 countries and our Hon’ble Vice President together on the banks of Ganga! Yoga is an amazing gift to humanity. As sun and moon are for all, so yoga is for all. Yoga shows us the way from focusing on Wifi to focusing on Why I? Why I am on this Earth? Yoga is the way to a lifelong 3H programme — Health, Happiness and Harmony. So, love yoga, live yoga and be yoga.”

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