With two record bids at Rajpath and countless events across the country and abroad planned for Sunday, the government Saturday said response to International Day of Yoga (IDY) had gone “far beyond our expectations”.
“It will be a great event (at Rajpath). Preparations are done and even the reserve capacity of 5,000 that we had kept appears to be taken. If all goes well, more than 40,000 people will perform tomorrow in the presence of the Prime Minister. We are still getting last-minute requests.
It will be great if we achieve the Guinness World Record. Apart from events organised by the government, there are thousands across the country that NGOs and yoga institutes have organised. far beyond our expectations. India tomorrow will be yogamay (full of yoga),” Minister of State (independent charge) for AYUSH Shripad Naik said.
Naik will accompany PM Narendra Modi, who will not do yoga himself, on the stage at Rajpath. Yoga guru Ramdev, H R Nagendra of the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhan Sanstha, who headed the government committee on IDY and is also Modi’s yoga instructor, Swami Atmapriyananda of Belur Math and Hansaji Jayadeva who runs a yoga institute in Santa Cruz, will also be on the stage, though none of them will perform any asanas.
Four instructors from the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY) will lead the crowd. Their actions will be beamed live on 32 LED screens set up on the 1,400 metre stretch at Rajpath.
In the run-up to the event, the cabinet secretariat sent out several circulars to ensure maximum participation of government servants. Training classes were organised at MDNIY so people could practise and come prepared. Though attendance is not compulsory, some ministries, it is learnt, have made officers commit in writing that they would be present at Rajpath.
At Rajpath, the government will attempt to beat the record set by Vivekananda Kendra of Kanyakumari. Personnel from Guinness World Records and official auditor Ernst and Young will keep a watch on the participants. The aim is to break two records – the most number of people practising yoga simultaneously, and the most number of nationalities performing yoga at one place. The turnout for the 35-minute event, which will comprise 15 asanas as well as breathing exercises, needs to exceed 29,973 to beat the current record. For the second record, Guinness has said people from at least 50 nationalities need to participate.
To aid the record bid, Ramdev’s organisations, Art Of Living foundation, the paramilitary forces, Delhi schools and the National Cadet Corps will provide 5,000 participants each. There will be 2,000 participants from Gayatri Parivar, 1,000 from the Isha Foundation and 1,000 from Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, apart from bureaucrats, ministers and invitees from 100-odd nations, including foreign sports coaches employed by the Sports Authority of India.
Later in the day, Modi will inaugurate a two-day yoga conference at Vigyan Bhawan and release coins and postage stamps to mark the occasion.
The ministries have also planned their own events. For instance, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is mobilising 1.8-2 crore youths across the country. “Over the last two weeks, we have been training youths, trying to cover six lakh villages. About 100-200 people in every district and 2,000-3,000 in each state capital will do yoga. There will also be yoga conventions in state capitals,” said Major General Dilawar Singh, director general of NYKS.
Ministers have also been assigned duties outside the Capital – Rajnath Singh will be in Lucknow, Sarbanand Sonowal in Guwahati and Ravi Shankar Prasad in Kolkata. Sushma Swaraj will lead the celebrations in New York alongside Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, while Najma Heptulla will be in Chicago.
Events will be celebrated in 192 countries. There are 39 events scheduled in the UK, including 23 in London, 24 in the US, including one at Times Square, 10 in Qatar, seven in Saudi Arabia, five in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan.
The MEA has organised trainers for all countries, and the events are being funded by the publicity budgets of respective embassies and high commissions.
A resolution for IDY was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014, after Modi endorsed yoga on the international stage.