The High Commission of India in Pretoria and the Consulate General of India in Johannesburg are hosting an event on Sunday, 21 June 2015 at Summer Place, 69 Melville Road, Hyde Park, Johannesburg from 08h30 to 13h00 to celebrate the world’s First International Day of Yoga declared as such by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014.
In December last year , the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to celebrate “International Day of Yoga” on June 21. This resolution piloted by India was co-sponsored by 177 countries, a record in the UN, including South Africa and a large number of African countries. In fact, the resolution received maximum support from Africa [46 countries] among the five continents. Given that Yoga today is practiced and cherished in every part of the world and is truly a global heritage embedded with universal values of peace and harmony, this record co-sponsorship did not come as a surprise. It is, therefore, understandingly fitting that this resolution was adopted within a short span of 77 days after the first call for the adoption of 21 June as International Day of Yoga was made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014.
In pursuance to the UN resolution, the Indian High Commision in South Africa and its Consulates in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town in collaboration with yoga schools and other stakeholders will be celebrating the 1st UN International Day of Yoga on 21 June in several cities in South Africa. The list of places where we are organising events is attached. In fact, this UN declared International Day of Yoga is being celebrated worldwide in all capitals and cities and the day would see millions coming together to celebrate this gift of humankind.
All events being organised in South Africa are free and open to all. Leading South African personalities and institutions including Premier of KZN, Ahmed Kathrada [Struggle hero], Mac Maharaj [Struggle hero] Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Ela Gandhi [grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi], Jonty Rhodes [cricketer] among others have endorsed this event with a call to all to come forward in support of healthy living and wellness. Endorsement and support from other leading personalities are expected several of whom will also be participating in the events.
As part of our programme, we have also organized an essay competition on “Yoga and healthy living” the results of which will be announced on 21 June. The competition is presently underway. The prizes include all inclusive trip to India for two with full hospitality in both under 16 years and above 16 categories of the competition.
In Durban the lead event is being held on the North Beach where 2,500 people are expected to participate. In Pretoria, the lead event will be held in Laudium and in Cape Town in Gatesville. In Johannesburg, along with the main celebration at The Summer Place, a yogathon is being organized at WITS University. Separately, there will also be celebrations in few schools in the city in the run up to the International Yoga Day. The Art of Living Foundation SA, Iyengar School of Yoga SA, ISHA Foundation SA, Gayatri Parivar, Incredible India, Zee TV, Zee World, Himalaya drugs, Dabur, Tech Mahindra, Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India and host of other partners are collaborating in the celebration in Gauteng, to which all yoga schools are being invited.
In today’s fast paced life, Yoga is helping people to stay healthy and fit and to balance mind and body, thought and action. It embodies a holistic approach to health and well-being and to live a life in harmony with nature and the world around us. Our modern world is truly a global space. It is propelled, more than ever before, by universal ideas, and Yoga very much belongs to this realm of universalism. Indeed, Yoga as a sustainable modern day life option has received popular global embrace and is helping people to nourish their lives not just in terms of physicality or health but as spiritual experience as well.
Yoga has a strong philosophical underpinning. It allows a person to understand one’s physical attributes and self within, which our outwardly oriented senses do not give an opportunity for. Yoga is about unity of body and mind so that there is total balance in one’s thought and action. Patanjali, the ancient Indian sage, who is considered the guru of Yoga, propounded unity of our imagination and existence as central to Yoga. Yoga may have been born from the womb of Indian philosophy and lives of ancient sages but its modern moorings are truly universal. Such an understanding is primal to a Rainbow Nation like South Africa or to a multicultural society like India which brings people from diverse backgrounds into their colourful fold.