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Yoga Day: PM leads celebrations in Ranchi, thousands in India and world roll out their mats

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: June 21, 2019  | 14:08 IST

(Eds: Combining earlier stories) New Delhi/Ranchi, Jun 21 (PTI) From the UN GA hall to the Indian Parliament premises and from Beijing to Ranchi, thousands of people stretched and twisted, breathed in and breathed out, reached for the skies and bent to touch their toes as India and the world marked the fifth International Day of Yoga on Friday. The ancient wellness regime was the theme and its enthusiasts on the mat -- literally -- performing 'asanas' simple and complex amid chants of "Om" and "Shanti" in several global capitals and across towns and villages in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the observance of the day. In India, the main event was held at the Jharkhand capital Ranchi with the prime minister performing various 'asanas' along with 40,000 people at the Prabhat Tara ground. Appealing to people to make yoga an integral part of their lives, Modi said,"We should make efforts to take yoga from cities to villages and tribal areas. Yoga is above religion, caste, colour, gender and region, it is above everything." "It (yoga) is constant and evolving for centuries. The essence of yoga has been stable and remained the same -- healthy body, stable mind, spirit of oneness. Yoga has provided a perfect blend of knowledge, karma and bhakti," he told the gathering. The United Nations General Assembly adopted June 21 as International Yoga Day in 2014 on a proposal mooted by Modi. While Modi led the celebrations in Ranchi, his ministers spread out across the country with Home Minister Amit Shah participating in a function in Rohtak, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the national capital, where many hundreds did yoga in the rolling greens of Rajpath, and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur. Shah, who did yoga exercises along with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, said it is due to the efforts of Modi that the world is now not only observing Yoga Day but making it a part of their everyday lives. "Yoga is the symbol of India's ancient history and diversity which is showing the world the way towards a healthy life," he tweeted after the event. Gadkari said yoga is a symbol of India's ancient culture, history and heritage and it is practised with great enthusiasm across the world. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra where 60 ambassadors as well as diplomats from various missions performed yoga exercises. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla led the Yoga Day events in Parliament House where around 400 people, including newly elected MPs, Union ministers and Parliament staffers, participated in practising the asanas. While President Ram Nath Kovind was part of Yoga Day at Rashtrapati Bhavan's Ceremonial Hall, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu participated at an event at the historic Red Fort where thousands of men and women, all in white, performed yoga exercises. Naidu recommended making yoga part of the school curriculum and said doing so is necessary in the wake of changing lifestyles and the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases. Scenes of mass yoga exercises in open grounds, parks and halls were mirrored in various parts of the country, even in the icy slopes of the Himalayas where Indian Army personnel put out their mats to perform various exercises. In Uttar Pradesh, for instance, Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attended the Yoga Day programme at Raj Bhavan in the state capital Lucknow. And in the Tamil Nadu capital, /RGovernor Banwarilal Purohit ledi from the front. The world joined in in marking the day. In a first of its kind yoga celebration, the iconic UN GA hall reverberated with chants of 'Om' and 'Shanti' as UN officials and diplomats joined hundreds of others to commemorate the day. /RAddressing the large gathering, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the essence of yoga is balance, "not only within us but also in our relationship with humanity". She added that by practising yoga, people can promote values that inspire peaceful, environmental stewardship for the betterment of society and the Earth. The event 'Yoga with the Gurus' was originally scheduled to be held in the North Lawn in the UN Headquarters but the venue had to be shifted to inside the General Assembly hall due to rain. "If it rains outside ..#YogaDay observance @UN moves to a better location inside - GA Hall," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted. In Beijing, the celebrations were led by India's envoy to China Vikram Misri who, along with a large number of Chinese yoga enthusiasts rolled out their mats to participate in Yoga Day. /R Yoga represents aspirations of the people from India and China that it is beneficial to work together in spirit of "friendship and cooperation", Misri said. Yoga has become immensely popular all over China in the past few decades and is emerging as a major fitness discipline which is specially promoted by the Chinese Ministry of Sports. Over 400 people performed asanas to mark the International Day of Yoga at the picturesque Hatachana compound in Tel Aviv, Israel, with India's envoy to Israel Pavan Kapoor asking the government to consider making it a part of the annual calendar of events. People from all walks of life, including popular Israeli actress and TV host Michal Yannai, participated in the event. PTI TEAM ASG ASG MIN MIN

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