Rising from the pall of Covid-19 restrictions, New York City celebrated International Yoga Day at the Times Square with day-long performances of the ancient Indian art of developing a healthy mind and body. The city’s celebrations were held on Sunday, June 20th to coincide with the Summer Solstice, which falls a day early this year, but the UN observed the day virtually on Monday, June 21st. The UN General Assembly declared June 21 the International Day of Yoga in 2014 at the initiative of India with the support of 177 countries.
More than 3,000 people participated in the “Mind Over Madness Yoga” performances organised by the Indian Consulate General and the Times Square Alliance. India’s Consul General Randhir Jaiswal said at the celebrations: “Yoga is a universal idea, universal thought, universal action. And what better place than Times Square to celebrate a universal thought. This is the crossroads of the world. You have people from all over the world coming, here people from five continents coming here, people from all cultures coming here.
“While we celebrate yoga in various parts of the world, celebrating yoga here in Times Square is very special, very unique, more so today when it happens to be Father’s Day, what a happy coincidence.” Times Square Alliance President Tom Harris said yoga is about “health, harmony, unity and togetherness”. New York State had dropped most Covid-19 restrictions on June 15 and Yoga Day was the first major event at Times Square. “We are back. Now is the time to stop wishing and doing more,” Harris added.
The Consulate featured a stall with nature care, herbs and health materials from India, which Jaiswal said was to help people “live more in harmony with nature, more in harmony with traditional knowledge”. The relay of yoga exercises that began at 7.30 a.m. and continued till 8 p.m.. It was broadcast live on the internet to help those at home learn the art. The day has been observed at the UN with top officials joining in the mass exercises, except last year and this year because of the pandemic.
On Monday, the UN held a virtual event at 8.30 a.m. (6 p.m. Indian Standard Time) that was telecast over UN TV, which is available on the internet, and on the Indian Mission’s social media. General Assembly President VolkanBozkir delivered a message at the event and New York yoga teacher Eddie Stern is slated to give a demonstration. A Saudi yoga instructor, NoufMarwaai; an Indian doctor and author, Raman Krishnan, and Sam Rudra Swartz, a disciple of Swami Sachidananda and a hatha yoga teacher are to participate in an interactive dialogue on “Yoga and Wellbeing”.