Sydney celebrates International Yoga Day

Vijay Badhwar - yoga 1










Cricketer turned actor Brett Lee with Swami  Govindanandji  and Consul General of India, Sunjay Sudhir at the debut celebration of International Yoga Day on June 21

By Vijay Badhwar

The highly successful International Yoga Day on 21 June, a brainchild of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is a masterstroke to soft-sell India, a marketing exercise par excellence to promote Indian culture and connect name India with something as profound and as widespread as Yoga. The thought of introducing such an event is ingenuous, akin to the brain waves Mahatma Gandhi used to come up with, like the Champaran movement or the Dandi March. PM Modi is in such august mould.

Establishing an International Yoga Day backed by Indian Government also sidelines recent trends to copyright and narrow down yogic methodology to particular styles and, in particular, to stamp Indian heritage to the ancient practice. The marking in the international calendar of the annual day through a United Nations resolution will be an ongoing reminder of Indian culture to the world population.

The celebration of the International Yoga Day in Sydney, although enthusiastic, was minuscule compared to the participation on Rajpath and Times Square in New York. The day’s events were scattered at venues in Bondi, Taronga Zoo and Parramatta and failed to gravitate into a mega event for a major impact. The official function at the Taronga Zoo Function Centre (rather than being at Opera House forecourts or St Mary’s Cathedral Square), turned out to be more exclusive as it required prior registration for organisational arrangements.

Indian Consul General Sunjay Sudhir launched the celebration, “delighted to share the ancient discipline with the global community which is followed by tens of thousands of Australians”, he said.

“We want to reach out to your hearts and minds through yoga and stay healthy,” Sunjay Sudhir said, adding that facilities were available to learn yoga through the Indian Cultural Centre.

Famous cricketer and now a movie star, Brett Lee, was brief in his remarks that as a sportsperson he learnt, although not good at his knees, to being comfortable and getting in touch with the spirit. In a Q&A session with Kumud Merani he admitted that India was a huge part of him.

Swami Govindanandji was expansive in outlining yoga’s relevance in day to day lives. Yoga was about being joyful: it teaches us how to move well, think well and live joyously. “It transcends colour, culture, nationality and goes right to the essence of our being ”“ where I come from, where am I going, what is that I want and how do I achieve it,” he said.

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The picturesque function centre with views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House then turned into a flowing mass of practitioners graciously bending and stretching to the instructions from the Indian official website Ayush.

The session concluded with a talk on Ayurveda and a sumptuous vegetarian lunch.

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