Today was the day just after the grand 16th annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan ashram. This year the festival brought together approximately 1000 participants from more than 55 countries, many of whom joined us for a special ‘Seva Celebrations’ event today in honor of International Women’s Day.
The event was focused on a shift from “Yoga on the Mat,” a traditional asana based practice, to “Yoga off the Mat” with the applications of the principles of Yoga in every moment and every minute of our lives. It was an event focused on “Karma Yoga,” or yoga in action. The Seva Celebrations was a collaborative event uniting teachers from all across the globe to share teachings with one common intention: to celebrate the importance of seva. The celebration was full of ecstatic energy, meditation, mantra, kriya, pranayama, asana and kirtan.
The programme began at 9am and lasted until 1pm starting with beautiful, devotional kirtan, invoking the energy of the divine feminine through their beautiful songs dedicated to the Divine Mother, by Daphne Tse of Malaysia with Anandra George of Hawaii, USA.
The kirtan and invocation was followed by a 2-hour class of yogasanas 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 in Service” on the banks of Mother Ganga was led by: Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Kia Miller and Tommy Rosen from California, Laura Plumb of San Deigo, Anand Mehotra of Rishikesh and Bhavini Kalan of South Africa.
The program was followed by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of International Yoga Festival and President of Divine Shakti Foundation, leading a deep ‘Letting Go’ meditation and speaking about a life dedicated to service and the importance of the Divine Feminine (Shakit) in our lives. She also shared the work that was being inspired and led by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji with the Divine Shakti Foundation. She emphasised the significance of service coming from compassion which is a divine feminine quality, and that there could not be a better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than with service of humanity and the environment.
HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji concluded the programme with His blessings and words of inspiration to all of the participants and Yogis. He said “Yoga is more than the union of our head to our knees, it is the union of ourselves with the Divine. In that union what comes forth is the spirit of divine service and of the intention to give back. I am so proud of all my Yogis from 60 countries who have come together today, even after the festival has concluded, to take the practice further not just on the mat but off the mat and into our every day lives.”
Women working in the local community for the upliftment of women and girls were also honored by Pujya Swamiji during the event.
There was also a clean up planned along the banks of Mother Ganga, but due to the rain the clean up program had to be postponed.