People from Nearly 100 Nations, Saints, Governor and Dignitaries Converge for Inauguration of Parmarth Niketan’s Renowned International Yoga Festival

The International Yoga Festival, which has already drawn over 1,000 people from nearly 100 countries, was inaugurated today by Uttarakhand Governor, Dr. Krishna Kant Paul at a ceremony that included congratulatory statements from HE the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, as well as the participation of numerous renowned faith leaders, dignitaries and yogacharyas.

The annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan offers daily classes from 4:00 am until 9:30 pm with more than 70 revered saints, yogacharyas, presenters and experts from nearly 20 countries around the world. Ashtanga Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bharat Yoga, Ganga Yoga, and Somatics Yoga are just a few of the more than 150 different offerings throughout the week. There are also classes in meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy and spiritual discourses to be held by revered spiritual leaders from India and abroad.

Yoga, once an art restricted only to the sages of the high Himalayas, is now practiced by some 300 million people practice yoga worldwide, making Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival a tremendous draw for individuals from around the world. The official inauguration of the event saw a peaceful tapestry of participants representing the world’s faiths, nations, cultures, races and regions as Argentinians, Afghans, Israelites, Iranians, Japanese, Kenyans, Italians, Americans, Yemenis and people from numerous other nations formed bonds of togetherness under the common flag of yoga.

In a written statement, HE President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee said, “the practice of yoga has brought a lasting sense of peace to people across nations, across seas and across boundaries. To me, this sense of peace resonates as a lasting symbol for the nation of India, where yoga was born and to which the world comes today for laudable events like the International Yoga Festival.” HE President Shri Pranab Mukherjee also stated, “I have known Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, for many years. His leadership and commitment to the cause of peace and interfaith harmony is commendable. I appreciate the sense of unity that his vast body of work brings… I wish the yoga festival at Parmarth Niketan all success.”

Said HE Governor Dr. Krishna Kant Paul of Uttarakhand, “I am so happy to note that there are participants here from 93 nations, which says much about Parmarth Niketan and the International Yoga Festival… This festival is an important event in Uttarakhand’s calendar. Under Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji’s divine guidance and inspiration, Parmarth has blossomed into a divine sanctuary known around the world. I wish this spiritually elevating event more and more success in the future, and ask all delegates to spread its message of love from their home nations around the world as Ambassadors of Yoga.”

As HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and Founder of its International Yoga Festival explains, “Now is the time to come together and join forces together as Ambassadors of Yoga for more peaceful homes, more peaceful nations and a more peaceful world. Let the International Yoga Festival inspire all participants to become torchbearers of hope, so that the ancient wisdom of India may shine forth and light the way for healthier lives, happier minds, and more joyous communities for one and all.”

Said HH Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rimpocheji, 37th throne holder of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, “This is the birthplace of yoga, and I wish all here peace of mind, peace for unity, peace for our world. It is a great pleasure to be here and I look forward to joining together with Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji soon for the planting of trees, and the cleaning of rivers, to bring even more peace for our world.”

Said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director, International Yoga Festival and President, Divine Shakti Foundation, “It is here, at the banks of the flowing River Ganga that saints, sages, and rishis came for yoga. It is from here that the art of yoga has spread around the world, bringing people together, healing hearts, improving health and creating an emerging culture of peace that transcends boundaries and borders.”

Said Hon’ble Secretary, Uttarakhand Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Shri Shailesh Bagauli, “over the past years, we have joined hands with Parmarth Niketan for the International Yoga Festival, which has grown by leaps and bounds. I am very happy to hear that tomorrow, our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modiji will be interacting with participants here. It says a great deal about the festival.”

Prior to the rousing speeches were beautiful, acrobatic Yoga demonstrations by Parmarth Niketan’s Rishi Kumars (Gurukul Students), who formed graceful yogic human pyramids, as well as other feats that held audience members in rapt attention.

Yoga teachers from around the world also inspired participants with their heart-felt words.

Said American Yoga Teacher and Author, Tommy Rosen, “The source of the International Yoga Festival’s success is Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, who constantly emanates love, just like the River Ganga. He is a living example of what sadhana can do. Let His example, and the wisdom learned at the International Yoga Festival draw all from darkness to light and from fear to love.”

Said Los Angeles Scholar and Yoga Teacher, Kia Miller, “Yoga helps us to dissolve the veil that covers our True self. Therefore, in the end, you will see that we are only uncovering that which is already there. That is the true state of Yoga. Let each day, and each breath here at the International Yoga Festival and beyond be dedicated towards achieving such awakening.”

Said American Ayurvedic Practitioner, Yoga Teacher and co-founder of Deep Yoga, Laura Plumb, “Here at Parmarth Niketan, we are supported by the mountains, by the river and by the saints. As the International Yoga Festival grows, the need for it grows. A week from now, as you return to nearly 100 nations, take what you have learned and shower the world with love.”

The historic inauguration was also joined by Telugu star Ram Charan Teja, film actor, dancer, producer, businessman and entrepreneur, and his wife Upasana Kamineni, vice-chairman of Apollo Charity and chief editor of “BPositive” magazine. They later joined Pujya Swamiji and some of the International Yoga Festival’s revered saints for a special water blessing ceremony and were blessed by them with a sacred Rudraksha sapling.

Many Activities Held Throughout Day One of the Yoga Festival Prior to the Inauguration

International Yoga Festival participants were already awake and practicing a multitude of forms of yoga in locations throughout the beautiful, flower-splashed Parmarth Niketan Ashram on the banks of the River Ganga. The first class began at 4:00 am with Kundalini Sadhana, by American Sikh, Sukhmandir Singh Khalsa of California. At 6:30 am, festival offerings included: Lila Yoga by Erica Kaufman of Pennsylvania, USA, Yoga Therapy as Contemporary Medicine by Dr. Fharzana Siraj, and Traditional Hatha Yoga by Sadhvi Abha Saraswati. As the sun rose over the River Ganga, a special meditation was held on the river’s serene banks with soothing and melodious mantras chanted by Anandra Geroge of the USA.

After a beautiful breakfast in the gardens, a special session was held that included a 2- hour program of yoga taught by four different yogacharyas. Each session was presented for 30 minutes each, so all of the participants could sample the different offerings of the Festival. This special session of a “Union of Yoga” on the banks of Mother Ganga was led by: Laura Plumb of California, USA, Kia Miller and Tommy Rosen of California, USA, and Mohan Bhandar, formerly of Parmarth Niketan, who is now a renowned yoga teacher in China.

Highlights of the afternoon sessions included a Kirtan Workshop lead by Adam Bauer of USA and a talk on the Biology of Beliefs by Dr. Bruce Lipton of USA. Upasna Kamineni led a talk on Holistic Healthcare to Cure the Diseases of Mind and Body, Swami B.A. Paramadvaiti taught Inbound Yoga, and Bharath Shetty, founder and director of IndeaYoga, presented a class on Mind, Body and Breath Coordination.

In the evening, all participants gathered together to take part in the sacred and divine world famous Ganga Aarti ceremony, led by HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. After dinner, participants were treated to a beautiful cultural dance performance by Himalayan artists through Uttarakhand Tourism cultural department. Day two of the International Yoga Festival will include a well-anticipated address, with audience interaction, by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modiji.