Even as relations between United States and India are simmering over trade issues, Washington, D.C. and cities around the country celebrated India’s ancient tradition – yoga — with thousands meeting and observing the exercises that have a proven record of being healthful for the body and mind.
Stretching from the United Nations in New York City, where on Sept. 27, 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the international community to adopt a Day of Yoga, to Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, in Texas, and Chicagoland in Illinois, thousands of yoga enthusiasts participated in the events June 16, the 5th International Day of Yoga (IDY).
Yoga Day events were also scheduled for New Orleans in Louisiana, Dallas, Kansas City in Missouri, places in Oklahoma, and Arkansas, going by the Indian Consulate information posted on yogadayoftexas.org.
Representatives from the Trump administration, the diplomatic community, and an unprecedented number of people of all ages and from every walk of life took part in the event at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., according to a press release from the Indian Embassy.
Representatives from the White House, State Department, other Government agencies, Ambassadors of Nepal, Mauritius and Myanmar, members of international financial institutions including the World Bank and IMF, cultural and academic institutions, think-tanks, media and the Indian diaspora joined to fill the lawns around the Monument.
Describing yoga as an ‘invaluable gift’ from India to the world, which promotes peaceful co-existence and unity, Ambassador India’s Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla noted that yoga transcended linguistic and cultural boundaries, and has millions of practitioners in the U.S., making them philosophically a part of India’s civilizational ethos, echoed in the phrase, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” meaning, “the World is One Family”.
A guided yoga session based on the ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ was performed by the participants. The session was led by Teacher of Indian Culture at the Embassy of India, Dr. Moxraj, along with other yoga volunteers.
The event also commemorated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Following the IDY event in Washington DC, an Indian Vegetarian Food Festival was held at the Freer│Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian Art, on the National Mall to commemorate the Gandhi anniversary. Food connoisseurs came in large numbers, the press release said. The festival also featured several cultural performances by talented local artists.
In the run up to this year’s IDY, the Embassy had organized several curtain-raiser events in collaboration with yoga organizations and yoga studios at several places in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Washington DC, resulting in a record turnout for the Yoga Day celebrations.
In the Midwest, the Consulate General of India in Chicago held Yoga Day June 15, in partnership with Friends of Yoga, at the Naperville Yard indoor sports complex. (https://www.facebook.com/IndiaInChicago)
More than 500 people gathered at Naperville Yard to perform the yoga exercises and take part in stage performances.
In Chicagoland, Yoga Day events are scheduled for The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago June 22, at the Little Goat Diner, and in Wicker Park on June 21, to name just a few.
In Michigan, events are scheduled for June 21, at the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, at Hull Park in Traverse City, and Highland Park.
The India Association of Minnesota and the Dr. Dash Foundation have scheduled IDY for June 22, at the Southdale YMCA in Edina, MN.
In southern U.S., the International Day of Yoga continues to be celebrated over the week in Texas. In Houston alone, it is scheduled to be held Feb. 21 at Midtown Park June 21, at Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Meditation Center June 23, at The Woodlands June 22, in partnership with the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Houston. On June 15, the CGI partnered Yoga Enthusiasts of Austin, to hold the event at the State Capitol, according to Keepaustinyogic.org.