Yoga day celebration attracts hundreds in Dublin
Indian ambassador says promotion of traditionally Hindu activity is non-political
The official International Day of Yoga will take place on Tuesday.
Hundreds of yoga enthusiasts practised their poses in Dartmouth Park on Saturday morning for the launch of International Yoga Day.
About 400 people gathered for the celebration of yoga, which was organised by the Indian Embassy in Ireland, Yoga Therapy Ireland and several other Indian and yoga organisations.
This is the second year an international day of yoga has been celebrated, following lobbying by the prime minister of India Narendra Modi to the United Nations in 2014.
June 21st was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly last December to coincide with the summer solstice.
Over 190 countries, including 40 Muslim countries, supported the move to have a special day for yoga.
The Dublin event was held a few days before the declared date; on Tuesday President Michael D Higgins will host a United Nations International Day of Yoga garden party.
Indian Ambassador to Ireland Radhika Lal Lokesh launched the Dublin event.
“Yoga has been growing in popularity all over the world and I think it is in recognition of the merits of yoga all over the world that the proposal was mooted by out prime minister in December 2014 in the United Nations to have an International Yoga Day,” said the ambassador.
“Although the philosophy comes from India, it has spread all over the world. In a world that is stressed out and full of problems, I think we need to come back to ourselves and see how we can engage with each other and ourselves to bring in greater peace and harmony,” she said.
Ms Lal Lokesh disagreed with the notion that the promotion of yoga is a political issue.
The decision to declare an international yoga day last year led to accusations that Modi’s Yoga Day is part of the larger project by the right-wing government in Delhi to promote the idea of India as a purely Hindu nation.
“If that was the case, I don’t think we would have gotten the support for International Yoga Day at international level. This was a resolution that was passed in the United Nations by the maximum number of countries that a resolution has ever been passed. While the philosophy of yoga may be connected to Hindu philosophy... it is connected to certain religious leanings ... the message of yoga is universal. It does not discriminate against anybody,” she said.
The ambassador said everyone can benefit from practicing yoga.
“One should not aim very high. One should start from where you are and then progress slowly. You should do it at your own pace incrementally and enjoy it,” she said.