Holi begins the 35th International Yoga Festival (IYF) at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh which was officially inaugurated by the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand Lt Gen (Retd) Gurmit Singhji in the Parmarth Ganga Aarti today

IYF is organised by Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh with the support of Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, in association with Ministry of Culture and Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, inspired by HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji welcomed home Yoga Presenters and Participants from nearly 90 nations in a special G20 themed Festival.

A special, eco-friendly, green, YOGIC Holi was celebrated today after an incredible and eco-friendly with cow dungs Holika Dahan celebrations yesterday night with great enthusiasm and joy by the participants of the annual world famous International Yoga Festival who got a very special experience of India’s famous festival of colours filled with messages, dance, songs and inspiring messages on the significance of these Festivals.  

RISHIKESH: Drum beats vibrated through the sacred Yoga Gardens as world famous percussionist Drums Sivamani and Soulful Sufi Singer Runa Rizvi sang Holi songs as delegates from more than 90 nations danced in ecstasy as  HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of International Yoga Festival applied pure sandalwood paste (chandan) as blessed tilak on the foreheads of all the participants, showering flowers of love and peace during the opening and first day of the highly anticipated 35th annual International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh being organised with the support of the Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, in association with the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.

Giving a message of an eco-friendly, green and natural Holi celebration with natural, organic colours and flowers showered in the Yoga Gardens of Parmarth Niketan in a very special and one-of-a-kind divine and sacred Holi. Thereafter participants joined Pujya Swamiji, Pujya Sadhviji and Sivamaniji in rallying down to the holy banks of Mother Ganga for an incredibly special and deeply refreshing Maa Ganga Snan.

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The morning asana class began at the break of dawn with Kundalini Sadhana led by Gurushabd Singh Khalsa from California, USA, followed by pre-breakfast classes including: Yoga Vrksa (The Yoga Tree) by Stewart Gilchrist, founder of East London School of Yoga, Paula Tapia’s Therapeutic Yoga Flow and traditional Hatha Yogasana by Dr. Indu Sharma, a dedicated teacher and practitioner at Parmarth for over 10 years as well as a special Naad Yoga chanting and meditation led by Ganga Nandini, also a senior Parmarth Yogacharya.

After a light breakfast, participants dove into our 8:15-10:15 a.m. intensive asana classes, which included, A powerful Kundalini Yoga class with the theme of Open their Heart To The Light Within was led by the founder of Golden Bridge Yoga Centre in California, and world renowned Kundalini yoga teacher, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. Kia Miller, founder of Radiant Body Yoga, led the wonderful workshop on Radiant Inner Light – Healing Breath Sequence. Power Vinyasa – Sweat Meets Depth – Move Your Asanas to Influence Inspiration in Your World with Katie B. Happy. The workshop on Lila Sun Salutations with Live Music by Erica Kaufman showed how the sun symbolises willpower, vitality, and courage in life.

Following lunch, a talk on Veda and Vedanta was conducted by Swami Svatmanandaji who has devoted his life to Vedic knowledge. To shed light on the fundamentals of Ayurveda, María Alejandra Avcharian, a leading name in the field of Ayurveda and Yoga, delivered inspirational information on the subject. Dance and Yoga go hand-in-hand as they link self-expression and body awareness. A traditional Gujarati folk dance workshop – Morli Vala Re, was demonstrated by Nrityavali and it dazzled the participants and taught them to combine fluid moments of dance with yoga. Dr. Eden Goldman, Director of the Yoga and Healing Sciences Program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, demonstrated how the art of yoga assists and touch is the Universal Human Language and how they help students practice surrender and move beyond self-imposed boundaries. Rishikesh-native and founder of Sattva Yoga Academy Anand Mehrotra guided students how to embody the cosmic self and “Access Prana”. In addition, Tommy Rosen, Founder of Recovery 2.0, offered students an opportunity to tune into the frequency of the divine and become one with the higher power.

After a short break for tea, around 5.30pm, the participants gathered on the banks of Ganga at the Parmarth Niketan ghat for the official inauguration  of  International Yoga Festival 2023 graced by the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand Lt Gen (Retd) Gurmit Singhji, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati ji, Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati ji, and renowned yogacharyas from across the world.

Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand Lt Gen (Retd) Gurmit Singhji said “This moment, this location, this environment is a very special and exclusive moment of bliss, ecstasy and sacredness. Holi is all about colours and love, that’s what we are celebrating today. The Lord is kind to us that we are here.The chant of OM here is something different, you get the feeling of the cosmic vibration, you’re fortunate to be here to practise yoga.This integrates your body, mind and soul, integrates you to the cosmic forces. The aim of G20 is integration and harmony, One Earth, One Family, One Future and that’s what yoga is all about. Looking at each of you…, you’ve come here together to celebrate that uniqueness of shakti, of wisdom. I can foresee that you will have a blissful, divine moment out here.Today we also celebrate International Women’s Day. Woman to us is that Goddess which represents Shakti Power. I’d like to compliment Parmarth Niketan and Pujya Swamiji for taking these 3 key points: gender based violence, child marriage and gender equality. And I’d like to thank him for always looking hard to give that yoga wisdom to each of us. Every lesson, every word will transform us in totality.”

After the Aarti an incredibly ecstatic drumming and mystic music session with renowned percussionist Drums Sivamani and Sufi singer Runa Rizvi had participants dancing in joy til late at night on the banks of Maa Ganga.

Tommy Rosen, internationally renowned yoga teacher, meditation instructor and addiction recovery expert with over 30 years of continuous recovery from addiction, who has been coming to the Festival since as early as 2012 shared, “Happy Holi! We are celebrating all colours today, illumination from within to without, connection everywhere, between all people, no matter country, gender, race, creed, belief system, whatever it is, we are all one!  And we come together in this way to celebrate life with joy and bliss, to live in a bliss realm and we need to live in a bliss realm more often and this is what this day is all about. Wherever you are, blessings and love! Satnam!”

Katie B. Happy, Motivation Master, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, Optimal Performance Trainer, IYF presenter said, “I have been coming to IYF since 2013 and I’m so thankful to Sadhviji and Swamiji to bring together people from all over the world – I have met thousands of people from around the globe who have touched my life and have made a difference in who I am  and I would not be the same person that I am now, unless I came year after year to meet, to love, to expand and to understand.”