The sun had slipped well beyond the horizon behind Rashtrapati Bhavan Sunday evening but yoga guru Ramdev was only warming up. He was already a couple of hours into a yoga camp being organised on Rajpath, two days before International Yoga Day. Ramdev had already led an estimated 35,000 practitioners in performing 28 pre-decided yoga positions.
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had led the crowd in performing what were strictly traditional yoga poses. This year, the programme was being organised in the evening and Ramdev had included popular musician Kailash Kher to sing for the gathering before beginning his discourse.
This time, Ramdev promised the crowd something more. His saffron dhoti knotted twice at his waist, he began by running in place, which he called ‘yogic jogging’. He urged the crowd to emulate him and they did. The guru smiled widely as he requested Kher to belt out one of his popular hits — ‘Aaj mere piya ghar aavenge’.
As Kher’s band strummed their electric guitars and laser lights flashed across the stage, Ramdev began to perform yoga to the music. The crowd, especially the younger section, enthusiastically attempted to follow his lead. The event began to feel like a concert when Kher began to sing ‘Bam Lahiri’ — a peppy version of an old Haryanvi devotional song about Lord Shiva and Parvati.
Ramdev then unknotted his waist length hair and proceeded to do jumping jacks. He swung his arms from side to side and touched his toes. Raising the difficulty level a notch, he mixed it up with a bit of Bhujangasana. Ramdev then swung his leg over his head. The crowd, which had attempted to follow the guru’s moves during the first song, gave up and began taking selfies on their phones.
Ramdev was accompanied onstage by a number of BJP leaders including Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, MPs Manoj Tiwari, Babul Supriyo and Meenakshi Lekhi.
Lekhi, the New Delhi MP, was the only one who attempted to match Ramdev’s steps.” “Himmat wali behen hai yeh. Lagta hai aaj adha kilo kam karke jayegi,” he joked. Lekhi wasn’t the only one at the receiving end of Ramdev’s wit. When Supriyo confused which arm goes around which leg in the pose known as Vakrasana, Ramdev cheekily chided the MP. “Supriyo, you go into politics and you forget what is left and what is right,” said the guru.
It was all in good humour though and Supriyo grinned. Though Ramdev was sharing the stage with political heavyweights, he was undoubtedly the star of Sunday’s show.