Today was the seventh and final day of the 16th annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan ashram. The concluding ceremony took place at 11 am and was graced by the presence of Chief Guest the Honourable Governor of Uttarakhand, Shri Krishna Kant Palji, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji saints and all the yogacharyas and presenters. Yogis from nearly 60 countries joined hands together in pledging themselves to spread the message of yoga in their cities and countries across the globe.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Director of International Yoga Festival, gave the welcome and expressed her joy at the successful completion of the 7 day Festival with nearly 1000 participants in which there were classes from 4:00 am until 9:30 pm with nearly 60 revered saints, yogacharya, presenters and experts from nearly 20 countries around the world. She said, “Together we learned, and we were transformed. We meditated, and we celebrated. We prayed and we played. We had 7 days of true Yogic union, a union of countries, of cultures, of colors and of creeds. The motto of our state is Uttarakhand: Simply Heaven. It is Safe Uttarakhand and Sacred Uttarakhand.”
Yogacharyas Kia Miller from California, USA and Erica Kaufman from Pennsylvania, USA shared their feelings of being here on the banks of Mother Ganga, in the lap of the Himalayas at Parmarth Niketan.
Erica Kaufman shared: ” The festival has truly been a union and I am deeply thankful to Pujya Swamiji, Sadhvi Bhagawatiji and all of my Parmarth family for putting this beautiful festival together and connecting us all one global family. When we come to Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival, we are reaffirming the good. We can get so entangled in our minds, and conflicts can seem so real. When we come together to do our yoga practices here, we reinforce our unity and commonality.”
Kia Miller shared: ” There is one word to sum up my experience at the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, that is GRATITUDE. This has been my second year and this year has been much deeper than the last. One of the most magnificent things about Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival is the presence of Mother Ganga and the Ganga Aarti Ceremony that we do every night in reverence of nature. This instills in us the deep message of the importance of preserving mother nature so we can all enjoy the bounties of nature for generations to come. I urge everyone to make the International Yoga Festival an annual event in their lives, to come back and deepen their experiences, year after year.”
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and inspiration behind the International Yoga Festival shared: “These days of the International Yoga Festival were filled with people from all nations, creeds, casts colours and religions. When we played Holi together– Holy Holi– I could see the true spirit of India, which is vasudhaiva kutumbakam: the whole world is our family. We may be from different traditions and cultures, but here, in the spirit of yoga, all is one. Yoga is beyond religion. It gives us the connectedness of one thread. It makes us realize we are all one. Yoga will make you a better Muslim, a better Hindu, a better Christian, a better Sikh, a better Jain and a better Jew. It will make you better whatever your religion is, for the fruit of yoga is bliss.”
Pujya Swamiji also inspired all the participants from 60 nations to take the beautiful opportunity of International Yoga Day to spread and share the teachings they have received here in International Yoga Festival. He said: “I want you all, everyone from all 60 nations, on June 21st, which is World Yoga Day, to go back and celebrate yoga where ever you may live. Celebrate to spread the peace. Celebrate to inspire more to take up yoga. Celebrate to bring togetherness to our entire world family. For yoga is beyond religions, yoga is beyond nations and yoga is beyond boxes, and we call all share this spirit, as exemplified by our Honourable Prime Minister, so that lives may be turned from toxic to tonic, and from junk to javik.”
The Honourable Governor was so touched and appreciative of the great work being done at Parmarth Niketan by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. He said, “Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival is a global and unique event that brings masters from so many backgrounds and cultures to this sacred place…. With the blessings of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Parmarth Niketan has blossomed into a world class institution that brings spiritual growth and bliss to people from around the world. I convey my deepest appreciation to Pujya Swamiji for His deep commitment towards bringing about world peace.”
The Honourable Governor also said: “I truly believe that the awakened consciousness through a yogic life is the first step to a compassionate society. I formulate that this international event will grow even more popular in the coming years bringing in more and more seekers from all over the world to learn the beautiful art of life called Yoga. I wish this institute all the very best and a huge success for the forthcoming venture of the International Yoga Day.”
There was a beautiful yoga dance from a group from China and also C.P. Yogaraj of Hong Kong who just broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous yoga demonstration also gave a beautiful demonstration. C.P. Yogaraj did continuous asanas for 40 hours, more than 1500 asanas to break the record in Hong Kong! Honourable Shri Narendra Modiji was so impressed that he shared this remarkable feat on his twitter account.
Pujya Swamiji, the Hon’ble Governor, Pujya Prem Baba and Pujya Lama Thupten offered sacred rudraksh malas (necklaces to all the yogacharyas)
Also, new books by Tommy Rosen on using yoga as a tool for recovery and H.S. Arun on utilizing the chair in yogasanas were released by the hands of the Governor.
Today’s 4:00 am Kundalini Sadhana was led by Sukhmandir of Los Angeles CA, Kundalini Teacher with over 30 years’ experience. Students were treated to a wonderful Deep Vinyasa class led by Mohan Raj originally of Mysore India, now residing in China, Yuvaa Yoga with Yuvaa Dayalan of Hong Kong, Somatic Yoga Flow with Brian Ingle of Ireland.
After breakfast, Tommy Rosen of Venice CA USA, taught a powerful class entitled “The First and Last Thing You’ll ever do access the keys to the Kingdom where students learned the yogic teachings and tools to incorporate into their daily lives. HS Arun, a world renowned Iyengar instructor taught the group of students a very informative class on Yoga in Day to Day Life. Mark Robberds and Deepika Mehta led the Mysore Style Self Practice and world famous Kundalini Yoga Teacher Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa taught a class on the Yoga Ghat, facing the banks of the beautiful Ganga entitled “The Joy of Togetherness”
In the afternoon Mert Guler of Istanbul Turkey taught a heart opening class based on the teachings of Rumi entitled “ Rumi Love Meditation,” Mohan Bhandari taught Yogi Yoga, Malayaja Garga gave a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita, Sadhvi Abha Saraswati taught Vedic Chanting, Erica Kaufman of Pennsylvania, USA taught her signature Lila Yoga, Bharath Shetty taught Indea Yoga with focus on twists and Forward bending. Keeping in the divine flow of the day, Laura Plumb taught “Ganga Yoga” combining Asana, Pranayam, and Mantra. Kia Miller of Venice CA taught a wonderful movement class entitled Pranic Body Balance
In the evening, all participants took part in Ganga Aarti Ceremony where everyone gathered together to close out what was a truly magical week of transformation, rejuvenation, and exhilaration, and most of all UNION. After Aarti there was a wonderful cultural dance performance by Sharmila Bhartari and girls from schools in Dehradun .
Quotations from Participants:
Susan Koleff from Calgary Canada: “My favorite thing has been waking up to the bells and morning prayers while lying in my bed in my room. I’ll carry that memory with me for the rest of my days”
Jackie Nguyen from California, USA says, “I came to the festival with the question and the curosity for knowing ‘What is Yoga.’ Throughout this week I have learned so much about Yoga and with the insights, wisdom and experience of the presenters and the saints I have learned how to balance between spiritual and material world. I am forever grateful. This experience has opened my eyes in so many ways and helped me realize there is so much work to be done and so much that I can offer.”
Dina Reis from Portugal shares, “I feel so blessed that I am in this place, sharing amazing classes and energy with amazing people. The festival is really well organized and beautiful.”