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Today, the auspicious day of Holi, was the sixth day of the 16th annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan ashram. This year there are approximately 1000 participants from more than 55 countries. There are classes from 4:00 am until 9:30 pm with more than 60 revered saints, yogacharyas, presenters and experts from nearly 20 countries around the world.

Today’s 4:00 am Kundalini Sadhana was led by Gurushabd Singh Khalsa of Los Angeles CA. Sadhvi Abha Saraswati & Indu Sharma taught traditional Hatha Yoga Asana class with Sun Salutations and Mantra. Mohan Raj of China taught Vinyasa style class. Hikaru Hashimoto of Tokyo, Japan taught Paramita Dharma Yoga – Understanding the Heart Sutra and Zen Meditation.

In the intensive asana classes, Bharath Shetty taught an innovative Hip Opener and back bending asana class. H.S. Arun of Bangalore led a special unfolding backbend class, Mark Robberds of Australia taught an appropriately flowing Vinyasa class in the Ashtanga style/tradition and Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa & Kia Miller of California, United States led a Kundalini Yoga Class.

The classes culminated at 10:30 am with the sound of world renowned percussionist, Sivamani’s glorious drumming and the presence of Pujya Swami Ramdevji. Pujya Swami Ramdevji and Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji joined the nearly 1000 participants from 60 countries in a beautiful and joyous Holi celebration to the sound of drumming by Sivamani and singing by Sivamani’s wife Runa. For nearly two hours the participants danced and played Holi with eco-friendly, organic colors. Beautiful and inspiring Holi messages were given by Pujya Swami Ramdev, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati. Lastly, all the participants took a pledge that they will celebrate the International Yoga Day of June 21 in their respective countries by taking back the great teachings and touch from Rishikesh! All participants raised their hands in this pledge.

After enjoying their lunch sitting on tables in the sunshine and dining tents, some highlights of the afternoon included: Daphne Tse of Malaysia led sacred chanting in her Soulsong Moving the Chakras class, Laura Plumb of USA taught a Hanuman Namaskar class with her unique and elegant style, New York Times bestselling author Janet Attwood led a program in Yoga of the Mind, Yuva Dayalan of Hong Kong led a special class in inversions and arm balances, Brian Ingle led Somatic Yoga Flow, renowned yoga teacher to the Bollywood stars, Deepika Mehta had everyone dancing divinely during her Dance of Prana class, Maa Gyan Suveera taught her beloved Reiki class and Mohan Bhandari of China (originally from Rishikesh) led a popular YogiYoga class on the Ganga Ghat.

After the sacred Ganga yagna and aarti ceremony in which everyone participated with great love and devotion, world famous drummer Sivamani gave a magnetic, energetic and ecstatic drumming concert with his beautiful wife Runa singing. There was also a Chinese Cultural Performance by some of the Yoga Festival participants from China.

Quotations from the Participants:

“As I enter the amazing Parmarth Niketan Ashram and once again join the International Yoga Festival, my heart swells with Love as my devotion to harmony is united with kindred spirits. Together we swim in sweet pure energy, elevating our awareness, clear strength, and peaceful courage to let our true Self shine. Life is a treasure…Live it with Love and unlock all the secrets.” – Erica Kaufman, Pennsylvania, USA

“My favorite thing has been waking up to the bells and morning prayers while lying in my bed in my room. I’ll carry that memory with me for the rest of my days” – Susan Koleff, Calgary, Canada

“I came to the festival with the question and the curosity for knowing ‘What is Yoga.’ Throughout this week I have learned so much about Yoga and with the insights, wisdom and experience of the presenters and the saints I have learned how to balance between spiritual and material world. I am forever grateful. This experience has opened my eyes in so many ways and helped me realize there is so much work to be done and so much that I can offer.” – Jackie Nguyen, California, USA

“I feel so blessed that I am in this place, sharing amazing classes and energy with amazing people. The festival is really well organized and beautiful.” – Dina Reis, Portugal