Leading the first International Yoga Day celebrations in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it marks the dawn of a “new era” to bring peace and harmony in the world.

A yoga enthusiast himself, the Prime Minister surprised everyone as he joined over 35,000 people, including leaders, officials, soldiers and students, in a yoga demonstration at the historic Rajpath this morning.

“Did anyone imagine this Rajpath will become Yogpath?

“We are not celebrating a day but we are training the human mind to begin a new era of peace and harmony,” Modi said from the dais, adding that it was a programme for human welfare and to spread the message of goodwill.

64-year-old Modi, who was expected to only address the event, later sat on the ground with other participants practising most of the 21 ‘asanas’.

The 30-minute mega event began around 7 am at the Rajpath which was dotted with white as participants sat on their mats for the yoga demonstration.

The Prime Minister, attired in white with a tricolour ’patka’, along with other participants followed the instructions in English and Hindi with images on giant screens too helping them.

Modi thanked the United Nations and 177 nations for co-sponsoring the Indian resolution in the United Nations for adopting June 21 as International Yoga Day. The proposal had been mooted by the Prime Minister during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September last year.

“For most of the people, yoga is just a physical exercise. This is the biggest mistake.... Had this been the case, children working in circuses could have been called ’yogis’ Hence, yoga is not only about making the body flexible,” he said.

Modi said that as mankind advances in various spheres, individual human beings must progress too and yoga was the answer. “This mismatch will also become a crisis for humankind. That is why it is necessary that internal development of man should also take place simultaneously.”

Hailing the contributions of yoga gurus and exponents of various traditions in the world, the Prime Minister noted that at times certain deformities creep in every tradition due to ignorance.

Maintaining that the asanas are just a beginning of the larger picture of yoga, he compared it with the fine tuning of various musical instruments at the beginning of a show.

Modi shared the dais with Ramdev along with heads of some other religious and yoga institutions.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and diplomats from a number of foreign missions also joined the yoga demonstration here.

The Prime Minister who has been under attack from the opposition for “usurping” yoga event to “highlight” himself insisted that the programme is only intended to benefit people and spread the message of love and well—being.

It seeks to make a tension—free world and spread the message of ‘Sadbhavana’ (harmony), the Prime Minister said, adding that yoga is “more than only physical fitness“.

There was controversy in the run up to the event with a section of minority groups opposing it. The government did not include ‘Suryanamaskar’ in the yoga protocol for the event after some Muslim groups claimed that it was against their religion.

US Ambassador, other diplomats attend

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma was among scores of of diplomats who attended the event at Rajpath. External Affairs Minister had invited diplomats from 152 foreign missions in the country for the mega event.

While top envoys of all the missions could not participate at the celebrations at Rajpath, representatives of many missions were present for the event, sources said.

Organisers are hoping that the event will find a place in Guinness Book of World Records. A representative of Guinness Book of World Records termed the participation of thousands of people as “overwhelming“.

A senior AYUSH Ministry official said although the target was 35,000, the Ministry had provided about 37,000 mats for the event and all were occupied.

The day was observed in over 251 cities in 191 countries across the world and the Indian missions and diplomatic posts have made arrangements for the celebrations and other related events.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was in New York to participate in the Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations.

Union Ministers fanned out across the country for Yoga Day events. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh addressed a mass yoga session at K D Singh Babu stadium in Lucknow. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari was in Nagpur and Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda in Hyderabad. BJP President Amit Shah attended an event in capital of poll—bound Bihar.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was in Meerut.

Top defence officers led by Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Navy’s Admiral R K Dhowan were present at the Rajpath.


From ice—capped Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world, to the warships in the contentious South China Sea, Indian armed forces too joined the International Yoga Day celebrations.

The show—stealer were the soldiers doing yoga in full gear on the Siachen Glacier at a height of 18,800 feet above sea level. Dressed in their special weather clothing, the soldiers practised yoga while sitting on mats placed over the snow.

INS Ranvir, Satpura, Kamorta and Shakti celebrated the International Yoga Day in the South China Sea region with the theme ‘Across the Oceans’

The Indian Air Force too carried out yoga sessions across the country which included not just the airmen but also their families.

“It is very important to know that 190 countries agreed that yoga is important for mankind and out of those 190 countries nearly 44 were Islamic countries. You can see that yoga is taking place in New York, China, London also,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Kolkata.

“Pakistan too had said that it will talk about yoga in their country but it stopped it all of a sudden. I would request them to rethink as we feel that yoga would help them bring in peace there in their country too,” Prasad said.