People from Nearly 100 Nations, Vice President, Governor, CM, Dignitaries and Saints Converge for Inauguration of Parmarth Niketan’s Renowned International Yoga Festival
PARMARTH NIKETAN, RISHIKESH- The International Yoga Festival, which has drawn more than 2,000 people from nearly 100 countries, was officially inaugurated today by the Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu at a ceremony that included congratulatory statements from Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand, Shri KK Paul; Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat; Hon’ble Union Minister of Tourism, Shri Alphons Kannanthanam, Hon’ble Minister of AYUSH, Government of Uttarakhand, Shri Harak Singh Rawat and Hon’ble Minister of Higher Education, Government of Uttarakhand, Shri Dhan Singh Rawat, Hon’ble Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Shri Prem Chand Agarwal and Hon’ble MLA Yamkeshwar, Smt Ritu Khanduri, as well as the participation of numerous renowned faith leaders, dignitaries and yogacharyas from nearly 20 countries across the world. The inauguration was presided over by H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of International Yoga Festival.
The annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan offers daily classes from 4:00 am until 9:30 pm with more than 80 revered saints, yogacharyas, presenters and experts from nearly 20 countries around the world. Ashtanga Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bharat Yoga, Ganga Yoga, and Somatics Yoga are just a few of the more than 200 different offerings throughout the week. There are also classes in meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy and spiritual discourses to be held by revered spiritual leaders from India and abroad.
Yoga, once an art restricted only to the sages of the high Himalayas, is now practiced by some 300 million people practice yoga worldwide, making Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival a tremendous draw for individuals from around the world.
The official inauguration of the event saw a beautiful and colorful tapestry of participants representing the world’s faiths, nations, cultures, races and regions as Argentinians, Afghans, Israelites, Iranians, Japanese, Kenyans, Italians, Americans, Yemenis and people from numerous other nations formed bonds of togetherness under the common flag of yoga, on the banks of the sacred River Ganga, in the World Capital of Yoga.
HE Vice President Shri M Venkaiah Naidu stated, “I heartily congratulate Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, the Founder of the International Yoga Festival (IYF) at Parmarth Niketan, and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, the Director of IYF, for creating such a beautiful festival for the world to take part in and celebrate the true essence of yoga and for them to celebrate the diversity whilst stay rooted in the unity, in line with the tradition of our sacred land. I am so glad to learn how this festival has grown and blossomed over the last nearly twenty years at Parmarth Niketan. I am also glad to see the message being propagated here that we have to preserve nature and our culture to pave the way towards our collective future.”
HE Vice President Shri M Venkaiah Naidu added, “Yoga is not a religion. It is a culture and a way of life. It is the key to how our ancient civilization has stood the test of time. Yoga unites our thoughts, words and actions, our mind, body and speech. It facilitates greater unity in our society, amongst our generations and amidst our nations.”
Said HE Governor Dr. Krishna Kant Paul of Uttarakhand, “IYF is the brainchild of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. This festival has not only been able to convey the essence of yoga but it has also been able to motivate a large number of people not only in India but also abroad to turn towards Yoga. The presence of a large of number international delegates here today and year after year is a symbol of the power of yoga and the success of the IYF at Parmarth Niketan.”
Said Pujya Swami Saraswatiji, President, Parmarth Niketan and Founder, International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, “Today is truly a historical day — people from 94 countries and our Hon’ble Vice President together on the banks of Ganga! Yoga is an amazing gift to humanity. As sun and moon are for all, so yoga is for all. Yoga shows us the way from focusing on Wifi to focusing on Why I? Why I am on this Earth? Yoga is the way to a lifelong 3H programme — Health, Happiness and Harmony. So, love yoga, live yoga and be yoga.”
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawatji said, “I warmly welcome you to Devbhoomi, Uttarakhand and I express my appreciation to Pujya Swamiji for bringing people from 94 nations to be touched and transformed by this sacred land. I am certain that during their time they will learn how to live with greater peace, happiness and contentment in their lives. Today, when the world is restless and stressed, losing their peace, in the face of this darkness, yoga is the light for peace and happiness. Yoga is true wealth of our nation.”
Hon’ble Tourism Minister Shri K Alphons said, “there is genocide happening in parts of the world, there is violence amongst women and children as well as the environment but amongst all this – there is one thing uniting the world and that is Yoga. That is our great legacy to the world.”
Said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director, International Yoga Festival and President, Divine Shakti Foundation, “When we look around the world today, we see violence, crime, war, poverty, environmental destruction. Yoga is our magic wand. If yoga, in its fullness of eight limbs as given by Sage Patanjali were truly practiced and embodied by all, the problems of our world would dissipate and even disappear. The time is now. We are the ones. Yoga is the answer.”
Prior to the rousing speeches, a special ceremony was held in which the Yogacharyas and Country Ambassadors were given a “Tree of Yoga”, followed by a divine Water Blessing Ceremony. After this, the Yogis from across the world took part in a Yoga in Action Pledge, raising their hands in unity to help make the planet Clean, Green & Serene for all beings.
Said world-renowned Kundalini Yoga Teacher and Founder of Golden Bridge Yoga LA, Gurmukh Kaur: “I have been coming to the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan since its inception. It’s been nearly twenty years of our time together. I go around the world, to numerous festivals, but this one is very special. One that I know I personally get a lot of energy and healing from, which helps me share the same with my students.”
Said American Yoga Teacher, founder of Recovery 2.0, a new system of using yoga to help people recover from addictions, and renowned Author, Tommy Rosen, “The source of the International Yoga Festival’s success is Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, who constantly emanates love, just like the River Ganga. He is a living example of what sadhana can do. Let His example, and the wisdom learned at the International Yoga Festival draw all from darkness to light and from fear to love.”
Said American Ayurvedic Practitioner, Yoga Teacher and co-founder of Deep Yoga, Laura Plumb, “Here at Parmarth Niketan, we are supported by the mountains, by the river and by the saints. As the International Yoga Festival grows, the need for it grows. A week from now, as you return to nearly 100 nations, take what you have learned and shower the world with love.”
Other renowned Yoga Masters, Yogacharyas & Presenters present at the inauguration included H.H. Pujya Swami M.M. Asanganandji, H.H. Pujya Prem Babaji, H.H. Radhanath Swamiji, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasenaji, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Sadhvi Abha Saraswatiji, H.S. Arun, Ana Forrest, Jose Calarco, Mohan Bhandari, Gurushabd Singh Khalsa, Rujuta Diwekar, Jules Febre, Bharath Shetty, Akira Watamoto, Hikaru Hashimoto, Roberto Milletti, Francesca Cassia, and Mert Güler, among others.