The first day, the morning began at 4:00 am with Kundalini Sadhana, Exploring the Realms of Consciousness by Sukhmandir Singh Khalsa of California, USA and Osho Dynamic Meditation at 5:30 am by Chris Miglino of Los Angeles, USA. At 6:30 am, the offerings included: Traditional Hatha Yoga by Sadhvi Abha Saraswati, Experiences with the Rising Sun by Padmashri Bharat Bhushan, Meditation by Chandanni Miglino originally of Iran and now from California, USA and also by Maa Gyaan Suveera. There was also Somatic/Feldenkrias Movement by Brian / Siddharth Ingle of Ireland.

After a beautiful breakfast, the morning asana special class included a 2-hour program of yoga taught by five different yogacharyas, for 25 minutes each, so all of the participants could sample a bit of the different offerings of the Festival. This special session of a “Union of Yoga” on the banks of Mother Ganga was led by: Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Tommy Rosen of California, USA, H.S. Arun of Bangalore, Anand Mehotra of Rishikesh and Vishwaketu of Rishikesh and Canada.

Followed by a grand and special Inaugural Ceremony graced by the presence of Chief Guest Shri Mahesh Sharmaji, Minister for Tourism, Government of India, many revered spiritual leaders, saints and all the yogacharyas and presenters. (To see the pictures and details of the ceremony, click here):

Highlights of the afternoon sessions included Sufi Meditation by Mert Guler of Turkey, Jyotish by Komilla Sutton of USA, a talk on yoga for diabetes management by Radhika Nagrath, Buddhist Meditation by Ven. Bhikkhu Sangasena, Ashtanga Yoga by Deepika Mehta and Mark Robberds of Australia , devotional kirtan with Daphne Tse of Malaysia, and a beautiful discourse on the qualities of a true Yogi by Radhanath Swamiji.

In the evening, all participants took part in the sacred and divine world famous Ganga Aarti ceremony at Parmarth Niketan followed by a beautiful Odissi Dance performance by Anita Babu and her troupe, Odissi Natya Sala. They did gorgeous performances on MahaKali Stuthi and Nadi Narayani. The Nadi Narayani dance portrays the River, and symbolically all water bodies, as a Vedic Goddess, referencing the sacred rituals as well as the tragedy of current devastation. The message is very clear – we need to protect water and our water bodies as a prime source of Life.

Anita Babu is the founder of Odissi Natya Sala. started learning Odissi at the age of 7 and became a disciple of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. She has been refining her dancing skills under the constant guidance and encouragement of her Guru as well as of the other senior students of the Orissa Dance Academy. She also has a Masters in Arts degree in Anthropology.

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