1 MARCH 2020 RISHIKESH INDIA: The evening of 1 March was glorious along the holy banks of Mother Ganga, as over 900 participants from 56 countries joined Pujya Swamiji and Sadhviji in welcoming the Hon’ble Minister of State for Culture and Tourism for the Government of India, Shri Prahlad Singhji, and the Hon’ble Speaker of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly, Shri Prem Chand Aggarwal, for the inauguration of the 31st Annual Internatioinal Yoga Festival, a week of enlightenment, upliftment and connection to themselves, each other and all of Creation.

Pujya Swamiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, said: “Yoga is all the way from the United Nations to the United Creations on the banks of Ganga!”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of the International Yoga Festival, said, “As we gather on the banks of the sacred Ganga, in Rishikesh, the World Capital of Yoga, the land where the sages, saints and rishis have come for thousands of years to attain enlightenment, we remember that yoga is not only postures on a mat but yoga is who we are. Yoga is love, yoga is peace, yoga is togetherness. This is what the world needs today. Yoga is the answer to all that ails us from terrorism and war to environmental destruction to internal depression. Yoga is union – union with the Creator and union with the Creation. Through our yoga may we become vehicles of peace, love and union for the world.”

Hon’ble Minister of Tourism and the Hon’ble Minister of Statue for Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patelji, said: “I would like to welcome all of the people from all over the world present here in the lap of Maa Ganga, and I thank Pujya Swamiji for making it possible for people from across the country and around the world to connect on a deeper level. Yoga means Union, and Swami Ji has really made it possible for that union to happen. I was born on the River Narmada. What a blessing it is to be here in the lap of the Himalayas, in the arms of Maa Ganga and at the feet of the extraordinary and Divine power that is here. I am overjoyed that so many people from all over the world have come here, and so very proud to call this place the Yoga capital of India and the world.”

Hon’ble Shri Prem Chand Agarwalji, Speaker of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly, echoed Hon’ble Shri Patelji’s sentiments, stating: “First of all I’d like to welcome all my brothers and sisters from all over the world and thank them for their presence in this divine place of Uttarakhand. Every year we get an opportunity to meet and greet people from different countries, and even today – as we all know that people from 56 people are present here – it feels as though the entire Universe is in the lap of Rishikesh. I’d also like to offer him my hearty thanks and congratulations for all of the work that He’s done for water, education and the environment. He hasn’t limited His work to just the International Yoga Festival; He addresses so many social topics and concerns.

As the days of this beautiful Festival progressed, the total number of participants quickly rose to 1425 souls from 73 countries around the world, nearing the record set in 2018.