It was a different record of sorts for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday as he led India in breaking the Guinness World Record (GWR) for the largest number of people doing yoga at one venue – the stately Rajpath which turned into a Yogpath, according to him, on a day when 192 countries observed the first International Day of Yoga on Sunday.
Moreover, the foreigners helped India set another record. That of the largest number of foreign nationals in a single yoga lesson with participation from 84 countries.
When he started addressing the large gathering of yoga practitioners lined up on Rajpath, Modi began asking them, “had anyone ever thought that Rajpath would become Yogpath?”
PM Modi was sharing the dais with top yoga practitioners including Baba Ramdev and the Vice-Chancellor of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Swami Atmapriyananda.
In his brief speech, Modi said this was not just a day-long celebration but the beginning of an era of peace and harmony. Later in the day, at another function, he went on to caution against the “commodification” of yoga.
Later on, the Prime Minister left the dais to take his position at the head of the thousands lined up for the yoga demonstration which began with the chanting of “Om”. Muslims participating in the demonstration could be seen holding their hands up in salutation (dua mode) instead of the namaskar, salutation with folded hands.
After doing the warm-up exercises, Modi took a break at the Vrikshasana stage, in which people balanced themselves on one leg with the other folded at the knee, to walk down the rows of participants.
Vrikshasana over, he was back doing the rest of the routine for the next half an hour which signed off with a chanting of the shanti path. In all, 35,985 people powered India’s record-setting endeavour.
Among the prominent personalities who joined Modi in attempting the record were the rivals of Delhi politics — Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung — and heads of diplomatic missions.
Opposition not present in Yoga Day event
Most of the opposition members stayed away from the record setting Yoga Day event at Rajpath at the national capital but the Congress posted its wished along with the photographs of former PM Jawaharlal Nehru doing yoga.
Yoga demonstrations were organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House. In Parliament, the Lok Sabha secretariat – which has been organising Yoga training sessions for staffers for years now – organised a Yoga Shivir but not the Rajya Sabha which drew some criticism from BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav.
However, he quickly withdrew his tweets criticising Vice-President Hamid Ansari for giving Yoga Day a miss. Apologising, he said, the institution of Vice-President deserves respect.