Yoga moves nation, from Rajpath to states

How the Prime Minister led Yoga Day celebrations from the front in the capital, and how political leaders emulated him elsewhere in the country.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: June 22, 2015 1:11 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs one of several asanas at Rajpath on Sunday. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia) Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs one of several asanas at Rajpath on Sunday. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)

Postures with the PM

Abantika Ghosh follows Narendra Modi’s tryst with yoga at Rajpath

6.43 am: PM arrives on stage in a loose white linen shirt and trousers, a tricolour stole around his neck. Welcomed by AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik, he greets yoga gurus Ramdev, H R Nagendra, Hamsaji Jaydev and Swami Atmapriyananda, waves to crowd.

6.44: Ramdev shows Modi the Encylopaedia of Yoga that he released Saturday. Modi accepts it, looks at it briefly, turns his attention to the huge gathering.

6.47: Modi chats with Nagendra, gestures towards the crowd.

6.49: PM delivers address. He says Rajpath has become “Yogpath, contrary to all expectations” and if yoga had just been about physical exercises, every circus performer would have been a yogi. He thanks UN for its International Day of Yoga resolution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wipes his face amid the exertion in the open. (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi) Prime Minister Narendra Modi wipes his face amid the exertion in the open. (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

6.59: PM walks towards his seat; only he does not sit down, an action that takes everybody by surprise. He walks straight towards the back of the stage and gets down, security men in tow. For a brief while there is a “he’s leaving” collective gasp from the crowd.

He re-emerges in front of stage, crosses Rafi Marg and walks towards where participants dressed in the Yoga Day T-shirts are waiting on their mats. A posse of police personnel — also in the special T-shirts — surrounds him. It is clear that the Prime Minister is going to perform. He takes off his glasses and hands them over to security pesonnel.

Modi walks straight towards a green mat laid out for him at the head of the group. The mat is a plain one without the mandatory Yoga Day logo and number printed on all other mats. He sits down cross-legged. He does not turn his head, does not close his eyes either. He catches the action around him through the corners of his eyes. Securitymen and camerapersons are jostling as much to ensure security as to take his pictures.

7.03: Modi starts performing the initial loosening exercises. His hands shake slightly as they are stretched in front while performing the trunk and knee movements. He used the tricolour stole to wipe his face which is starting to redden in the heat.

Earlier, PM Narendra Modi greets Baba Ramdev on stage after his arrival; the latter presented him a copy of his Encyclopaedia of Yoga. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia) Earlier, PM Narendra Modi greets Baba Ramdev on stage after his arrival; the latter presented him a copy of his Encyclopaedia of Yoga. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)

7.08: Just as the asanas start, he takes a sudden break and takes a leisurely stroll through the mass of schoolchildren performing yoga on the main Rajpath stretch. He corrects some of their postures like a physical education instructor would do. He misses two postures, one of which is brikshasana that requires one to stand on one leg with both hands pointing towards the sky.

7.10: The prime minister returns to his mat and resumes his yoga with padahastasana. He performs the remaining part of the common yoga protocol prepared by the ministry of AYUSH — ardha-chakra asana, trikonasana, dandasana, ardha-ustrasana, vajrasana, shashankasana and vakraasana. He has clearly practised earlier, for he starts off on an asana the moment its name is announced, even before the actual instructions start.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chats with schoolchildren after the session. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia) Prime Minister Narendra Modi chats with schoolchildren after the session. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)

7.35: The performance comes to an end and Modi walks back into the crowd. After some initial hesitation, schoolchildren break ranks and rush towards him. Securitymen are around but do not stop them, seemingly under instructions not to. The thrilled MC on stage is thanking him profusely and talking about how much he is being admired by the children.

7.38: The Prime Minister walks back to the stage with brisk steps; he does not climb it, but leaves the venue in his vehicle that is parked behind the stage.

The Guinness Effort

(Source: Express photo by Amit Mehra) Anything above a 30,000 turnout and 50 nationalities would be world records. (Source: Express photo by Amit Mehra)

#Members of a Guinness team at Rajpath above as the government attempted to set records for the maximum number of people attending a yoga class and the most number of nationalities performing yoga at a single venue.

#“I have been doing this for 12 years and have never seen such an electrifying atmosphere… By the looks of it, a world record will be created here,” said Marco Fragetti, an adjudicator with Guinness World Records.

#Officials from AYUSH say initial estimates suggest a turnout “in the 36,000-37,000 range” and the presence of people from 70 nationalities at Rajpath. Anything above a 30,000 turnout and 50 nationalities would be world records.

From the states: Among performers, CMs and Union ministers

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh participates at KD Singh Babu Stadium in Lucknow. (Source: Express photo by Pramod Adhikari) Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh participates at KD Singh Babu Stadium in Lucknow. (Source: Express photo by Pramod Adhikari)

CHIEF MINISTERS

Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel performs yoga in Ahmedabad; Vasundhara Raje emulates yoga teachers in Jaipur; Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis performs in Nagpur, where Union minister Nitin Gadkari is present. Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar thanks the wind god for his support in Karnal, where a dust storm has torn posters and downed an entry gate. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah is at Bengaluru function; he announces state plan to include yoga as a optional subject for students, and praises the PM for promoting Yoga Day. Andhra’s N Chandrababu Naidu is in a function in Vijayawada, MP’s S S Chouhan in Bhopal. Assam’s Tarun Gogoi and Kerala’s Oommen Chandy skip state events.

CENTRAL MINISTERS, LEADERS

Harsmirat Badal is in an Amritsar event but does not participate; SAD presence outnumbered by BJP’s across Punjab. Amit Shah inaugurates a camp in Patna, does not perform while other BJP leaders do. Former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi performs at Patna home, Ram Vilas Paswan in Hajipur, Radha Mohan Singh in Motihari. Rajnath Singh performs in Lucknow, says yoga is India’s biggest gift to the world and a step towards making India a vishwa guru. Union ministers Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati, Smriti Irani in Shimla, Ravi Shankar Prasad in Kolkata. Meanwhile, Venakaiah Naidu in Chennai, Vijayakanth performs at DMDK headquarters; DMK’s M K Stalin circulates picture of himself practising yoga. Jagat Prakash Nadda and Bandaru Dattatreya are in Hyderabad events.

Armed forces perform in Ladakh. Armed forces perform in Ladakh.

CROWDS & PARTICIPANTS

75,000 in Ahmedabad; 30,000 in Jaipur; 25,000 in Karnal; 20,000 in Patna;17,000 in Lucknow; 10,000 in Chennai city; 10,000 in Guwahati; 8,000 in Kolkata.

SHOWPIECE EVENTS

100 boats with yoga performers on the Narmada in Gujarat. From Pengong lake bordering China to Siachen Glacier, besides locations along LoC and Pakistan border, nearly 3 lakh troops and families across J&K participate. Army and paramilitary forces in Northeast celebrate in Bumla and Sangatser on China border; BSF personnel in middle of Brahmaputra along Bangladesh border.

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