The fourth International Yoga Day celebrations were organized by International Yoga Club, Saudi Arabia on 21st June 2018

TVTC Football stadium, near Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was reverberating with vibrations of more than 2500 Yoga aspirants, from many different nationalities, including 250 children who were eager to perform Yoga. The fourth International Yoga Day celebrations were organized by International Yoga Club, Saudi Arabia on 21st June 2018.

Yoga is a 5,000-year-old tradition originated in India that combines physical, mental and spiritual pursuits to achieve harmony of the body and mind. On December 11, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga. The declaration came at the behest of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014, wherein he stated “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies the unity of mind and body; thought and action; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature”.

The arrangements for the IDY, 2018 (International Day of Yoga, 2018) were very well planned by the organizers with huge LED displays for telecasting the whole show live and Yoga mats were arranged for everyone who came to perform Yoga, comfortably.

The Chief Guests His Excellency, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, Azmi Thasim and His Excellency Deputy Chief of Missions, Embassy of India Dr. Suhel Ajaz Khan, Guest of Honor First Secretary, Embassy of Nepal Vijay Kumar Raut and Yogacharya Abu Hind graced the occasion. They walked inside the stadium with the roaring welcome given by the audience. First, they viewed the Yoga Exhibition which was displayed and then they were escorted by the President of International Yoga Club Satheesh Kumar Deepak, the advisory members M. Vetrivel, Thangasamy, Santhosh Shetty, the General Convener, Sunil Menon, Joint Convener Magesh Prabhakara, Madu Edacherry and Ravikumar, Coordinators Yoga Club Ajeesh, Yogacharya Sowmya, and many other members from the steering committee of the program.

The programme began with the lighting of the Oil lamp, by the dignitaries and they were garlanded by the senior members of the steering committee. This was followed by the inspirational speeches by the dignitaries. The Presidential address was given by Satheesh Kumar Deepak, wherein he spoke about how the idea of conducting such a grand celebration of IDY, 2018 began and he also thanked the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, His Excellency King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and His Excellency the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for legalizing Yoga as a Sports Activity. He also expressed his gratitude for this move which will allow anyone to apply for a license to teach and practice yoga in the Kingdom.

Then, His Excellency, the Sri Lankan Ambassador, gave his inaugural address. He stated the importance of doing Yoga and also mentioned the strong ties between Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and India. While His Excellency, DCM of Embassy of India spoke about his affinity towards Yoga. He was thrilled to see the enthusiasm in children and people who are assembled in the venue to perform Yoga. He shared his thoughts about the benefits of Yoga and how he has espoused Swami Vivekananda who took Yoga to an International level, as his icon.

The Guest of Honor, Vijay Kumar Raut, the First Secretary to the Embassy of Nepal expressed his pleasure in participating such a grand event on behalf of the Ambassador, Embassy of Nepal for the first time. He also stated the strong ties between the SAARC countries. The guest speaker, the Saudi Yogacharya Ayman Allam, expressed his love and gratitude towards India and its gift to the world Yoga. He also expressed that because of his deep respect towards India, he likes to be called as Abu Hind.

The video messages of his Excellency Mr. Ahmed Javed, the Ambassador of Embassy of India to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. H.R. Nagendra the founder of SVYASA University and Padmashree Nouf Al Marwai, the President of Arab Yoga Foundation were shown.

The speeches were followed by the demonstration of sun salutation posturer by children. Their performances were filled with absolute enthusiasm and professionalism. Two lady yogis from Saudi Arabia also demonstrated Yoga asanas. The audience was mesmerized by their scintillating performance. Yoga was performed in its true meaning with the unity of mind, body and soul in this event. The Mass Yoga Demonstration was performed according to the Common Yoga Protocol. It was a treat to watch – more than 2000 people, ladies, gents and children performing Yoga with true spirits of oneness, with the unity of body, mind and spirit. The Yoga sessions by children and the Mass Yoga Demonstration were both led by Yogacharya Sowmya. This was followed by Heartfulness Meditation Session, which was led by the trainers, Jagan Mohan and Dr. Narendran.

In association with the fourth International Day of Yoga celebration, eight different programmes were conducted commemorating eight limbs of Yoga which is called Ashtanga Yoga. Blood Donation Camp and Yoga and Diabetes Seminar, both were conducted on 24th May 2018, under the auspices of King Khalid Hospital. Elocution Competition on 8th June, Quiz Competition was held on June 18th and Online Essay Writing Competition were conducted for the children. The panel of judges included Thangasamy, Gopakumar, Krishna Kumar, Girijan and Seema Gopa Kumar for the elocution competition, Ravi and Suma Surendran for quiz competition, Kunju C. Nair and Shakeela Wahab for the essay writing competition. The prizes were distributed to the winners in this event on IDY. Apart from these, Yoga for Corporate Women in TCS- 600 Saudi Ladies and Yoga for Corporate World were also conducted on the same day in the morning.

The celebration ended with the vote of thanks by Swapna Magesh. The programme was hosted by Dr. Poorni Sudhakar, the Vice President of International Yoga Club and a Saudi student from Prince Sultan University, Showg Al Barjas, who pepped up the energy of the show. Madhu Edacherry, Ravikumar, Kunju Nair , Vinod, Vasudev, Antony, Santhosh Shetty, Indira Vetrivel, Nandini, Santhosh Kavalam, Pradeep Kumar, Muralidharan, Surendran, Santhosh Aranmula, R.K. Pilla, Niranjana, Parvathy, Divya, Arun Anand, Manikandan and Reneeshji played key roles in making the IDY celebrations a grand success.

Largely, the programme has brought in many positive vibes in the community about Yoga. The participants congratulated and thanked International Yoga Club for conducting such a fantastic show, which portrayed the importance of Yoga, which is certainly one of the greatest gifts of India to the World.

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