The most repeated statement at the Yoga Day event organised by New Delhi Municipal Council at Connaught Place was that “yoga is good not just for health but for spiritual well-being”. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said its benefit for humankind has been “scientifically proved”.
Towards the end came an announcement that the participants could carry their yoga mats home. The NDMC had spread over 13,000 mats; each participant needed just one but many had placed several before they had begun. Some took away up to four mats.
Through the session, Muqimuddin had watched quietly from behind an iron grill inside Moti Masjid. “Jism ki exercise,” he summed it up. As Miss World finalist Koyal Rana performed Vrikshasan, Muqimuddin said, “Namaz mein hi ho jata hai.” As if to demonstrate, he moved his body and head about.
Samar Pal said he had no time for yoga either. “I wake up at 5, collapse at 11. It’s not for me. It’s pure business,” said Pal, who works at a petrol pump. “They have sealed the area,” he grumbled. “The petrol pump is closed for two days.”
Some such as Ganesh were busy throughout. Over 13,000 empty half-litre bottles were to be collected. The barefoot ragpicker ended up collecting enough to fetch him Rs 100. Now in his teens, Ganesh cannot recall where his home is, or when he had last seen his parents.
The participants included contingents of Central Armed Police Forces, Delhi Police, Art of Living, Patanjali, among others. Naidu, Delhi’s Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and senior bureaucrats were among those who performed yoga.