EDISON, NJ: The Consulate General of India in New York, TV Asia and the Indian American community hosted a curtain-raiser on May 29 at the TV Asia auditorium in Edison, NJ, to mark the International Day of Yoga 2018.
The event featured an interactive session with yoga exponents in the presence of Sandeep Chakravorty, India’s Consul General in New York. At the curtain-raiser, Chakravorty announced the 4th International Day of Yoga that the Indian Consulate is hosting on Governor’s Island (Picnic Point) in New York on June 16, 11 am-1 pm. Yoga events are also planned at Times Square, NY and elsewhere across the US.
The Indian Consulate has partnered with several organizations to help host the yoga events. Organizations represented at the curtain-raiser and the panel discussion included, Isha Foundation (Rajashree Kotekar); Art of Living Foundation (Aniket Gune); Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (Ganesh Ramakrishnan); Vegetarian Vision (Sonali Vyas); World Yoga Community (Guru Dilipji); Hindu Temple Society of North America (Sanjay Attada); Mallakhamb Federation of USA (Chinmaya Patankar); Indian Cultural Association of North America (Shivadasan Nair); and Sahaja Yoga (Sheetal Bhanushali).
The panel discussion was moderated by Rohit Vyas, TV Asia News Director. Dayashankar Vidyalankar, the resident yoga teacher of the Indian Consulate in NY, demonstrated quick yoga techniques for the benefit of the audience. Also in attendance was Apoorv Om, the young Indian activist, who has a hearing impairment. He has been recognized by the United Nations for his outreach for inclusion of people with disabilities.
Sandeep Chakravorty, India’s Consul General in New York, said in his remarks that notwithstanding all the euphoria it was important to establish the Indian connection of yoga, which seemed to be getting diluted as yoga gains worldwide popularity. He mentioned that the year 2018 was important for yoga as it marked the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekanada’s address to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893.
“Outside of India, the US is now a leading proponent of yoga,” said Chakravorty. “Hospitals, corporates and everyone else now believes in the healing power of yoga and meditation.” He added that terminally-ill patients with cancer were being recommended to increasingly practice yoga and meditation to improve their end-stage quality of life.
H R Shah, chairman and CEO of TV Asia, mentioned that nearly 37 million people in the US were practicing some form of yoga and meditation. That, he said quoting media reports, had translated into a $16 billion yoga industry in the US, that included yoga schools, retreats, merchandizing and even health shows on TV.
“All of this was not possible if it was not for the efforts of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the United Nations recognized yoga’s universal appeal and on Dec 11, 2014, proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga,” he said. Shah felt that the recognition by the UN was the turning point in yoga’s acceptance as transcending international borders.
Yoga, as the name suggests, he said, means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness, was also helping bring people and countries together. At the curtain-raiser, an audio-visual presentation gave a brief overview of yoga. The panelists also performed a symbolic curtain-raiser on stage to announce the events planned around International Day of Yoga 2018. One of the posters at the curtain-raiser aptly displayed a photo of Prime Minister Modi performing yoga with more than 35,000 people at the historic Rajpath in New Delhi on June 21, 2015.
The curtain-raiser at TV Asia was recorded on multiple-cameras, to be telecast on TV Asia for the extended benefit of the community in the US, Canada and worldwide.
More than 300 guests, including several prominent members of the Indian American community, attended the outreach event, interacting with the yoga exponents and asking them a variety of questions about yoga and meditation.