Breath and Balance: Chicagoland’s International Yoga Day with Mindful Meditation Center and FIA Chicago

Lamp Lighting Sunil Shah (by FIA Chairman), Anu Malhotra (Mindful Meditation Yoga Center), Sanjeev Pal (Indian Consulate Chicago), Pratibha Jairath (President FIA), Vinita Gulabani (President Sindhi Association). PHOTOS: FIA Chicago

The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) Chicago, led by Founder Chairman Sunil Shah, and Mindful Meditation Yoga (MMY), led by Yoga guru Anu Malhotra, celebrated International Yoga Day at Naperville Yard Indoor Sports Complex, June 23, 2024. According to a press release, more than 1,000 people from diverse backgrounds participated in the event.

The celebration was organized in collaboration with the Consul General of India in Chicago, Somnath Ghosh and was supported by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, organizers said.

The day began with Yoga Anushashan or Yoga Discipline, led by    Malhotra who is known for her dedication to promoting yoga and mindfulness, organizers said, and credited her with playing a pivotal role in organizing and leading the event with a team of more than 30 volunteers.

Yoga learning led by Yoga ambassadors including Anu Malhotra.

The volunteers were divided into Welcome Committee, Décor, Seating, Communications. The overall event was led and managed by Falguni Sukhadia, Strategy and Planning Director and Chief of Staff IYD, under MMY and FIA Leadership.

A unique highlight of this year’s celebration was the inclusion of free, live music that reverberated through the Naperville Yard. It was led by Vipul Srivastava, a Bhakti Yoga proponent in North America.  Professionals and Yoga practitioners cum musicians performed “uplifting and serene” compositions, organizers said, complimenting the yoga and meditation.

Sunil Shah, spoke about Yoga being a gift from India to the world, which embodies unity and harmony. He highlighted the growth of the IYD, noting that participation has increased from 50 individuals five years ago to over 1,000 participants today.

Vasavi Chakka representing GSA spoke about the how IYD is a much-anticipated program of the year in Chicago when it comes to Yoda Day.

Mayor of Naperville, Scott Wehrli, began his speech with a ‘Namastay’ and the hall broke into non-stop clapping and cheering.

Indian Consul Officer Sanjeev Pal, in his short speech spoke about how the Ministry of Ayush in India is supporting International Yoga Day and re-emphasized that this year the IYD theme is ‘Women’s Empowerment.’

Shweta Baid, Alderwoman from Aurora, highlighted the global significance of International Yoga Day and praised Naperville for its enthusiastic participation.

Other dignitaries present congratulated the IYD including Team Lead Bharat Malhotra for showing great enthusiasm and uniting so many partner organizations during the lamp lighting.

International Yoda Day volunteers, singers, organizers with dignitaries.

The dignitaries included Linda Davenport (Court Judge), Paul Leong (Councilman), Pratibha Jairath (President – FIA and Vidyajyoti), Vinita Gulabani (President Sindhi Association of Metropolitan Chicago and Indo American Cultural Association), Hitesh Gandhi (Past President -FIA), Kathy Thorat (Global Eye Media), Seeta Bala (American Multi Ethnic Coalition), Dr. Ajit Pant (Global Expo), Om Dhingra (United Punjabi Association), Shree Guruswamy (Community Activist).

Malhotra’s yoga postures imparted at the gathering engaged participants who also immersed themselves in the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga. One of the participants, Krishna Chitturi, said about the experience, “It is Unity in Serenity leading to a healthy mind and a healthy body.”

This was followed by Bhakti yoga, where the following singers and musicians performed, their singing accompanied by guitar and keyboard – Navneet Malhotra, Prashant Kurdukar, Shreelekha Mohanty, Sanjiv Sarasvat, Bharat Malhotra, Sudarshan Iyengar, Anu Saraswat, Neel Sukhadia, Manjoo Srivastava, Reeta Hoskote, and Poonam Poddar.

The stage décor was done by Ramandeep Singh and Anu Saraswat. SEWA and HUM Volunteers and Hum volunteers during the 3 hours helped in distribution of water and also helped in the clean-up when the program ended.

Many organizations joined hands and partnered with IYD Celebrations to make it among the largest of its kind in the Midwest – namely, GSA Global Eye Magazine (Dr. Vijay Prabhakar), United Punjabis of America (Atul Wahi), Sant Nirankari Mission (Rosey Bhasin), Arya Samaj of Chicagoland (Ajay and Smita Gheria), Expert Pain Suggestion (Dr. Nitin Malhotra, Dr. Neel Malhotra). Media promotion and coverage was provided by A3E (Aparna Rai), Stellar Media (Richa Chand) and Outland Media (Harry Sidhu). Social Media efforts were managed and led by Sanskriti Sharma.



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