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Address by Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla at the 5th International Day of Yoga

Good Morning, Namaskar   
I would like to begin by welcoming you to the 5th International Day of Yoga.

 1. As you are aware, yoga is an ancient INDIAN tradition. The ancients believed that the first rays of the sun were most beneficial to mind and body. So, on this day, I want to begin the proceedings by a short invocation to the Sun or a 'Suryanamaskar' - Surya - "One who expands and illuminates the world" and namaskar as in greetings or salutation. [Hymn commences..]

 2.While addressing the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2014, the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi urged the world community to adopt an international Day of Yoga. Subsequently, within 75 days of the proposal, the United Nations General Assembly, on December 11, 2014, adopted a unanimous resolution declaring June 21st as the International Day of Yoga. Since then, millions of people have taken part in the celebrations of yoga every year in each and every country in the world.

3.Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition. It represents the unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and well-being.

4.More importantly, yoga promotes the message of Peace in the world, which is in line with India's principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means "the world is one family." To quote a popular Sanskrit shloka or stanza on Yoga:

बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते।

तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्।।

Buddhiyukto jahatiha ubhe sukrtaduskrte |

Tasmadyogaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kaushalam ||

A person with equanimity is free from anxiety regarding the outcome of both good and bad actions.

Hence, devote yourself to the discipline of Yoga, which is the art of proper action.

5.  I am delighted to see such a record gathering of families for the International Day of Yoga today.  Let me take this opportunity to wish all the fathers present here a very happy Father's Day. There can be no better way to celebrate this special day than by fathers and their children to be practicing yoga together. 

6.The popularity of yoga has seen a significant increase in the United States and in fact all over the world in recent years. According to a study, 'Yoga in America brought out by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance', the number of US yoga practitioners has increased to more than 36 million. This reflects an overwhelming adoption of yoga by the American people.

 7.To quote Prime Minister Narendra Modi, "Yoga has evolved as a way to achieve healthy living and combines physical, mental and spiritual pursuits to achieve harmony of the body and mind. Its appeal today has truly transcended cultural and linguistic boundaries, and it has become a global phenomenon." Prime Minister Modi also gave a call for all of us to make yoga an integral part of our life and also inspire others to do the same.

8.This year, we commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Mahatma.  Gandhiji was a connoisseur of simple and healthy living. He once said, "Live simply so that others may simply live." To commemorate his 150th birth anniversary, along with several other major events, we are hosting an Indian Vegetarian Food Festival at the Freer Gallery immediately after this event. I invite you join us at the Indian Vegetarian Food Festival which is just a 10-minute walk from here.

9. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Freer & Sackler Gallery of Asian Arts for their work in promoting Indian culture, in the US, including yoga. Their very impressive publication titled 'Yoga: The Art of Transformation', has been placed on display here. 

 10.We are proud to be hosting this event at the iconic Washington Monument at the heart of the city and America. In this endeavor, we have received invaluable support from all our sponsors/partner organizations, yoga studios and concerned agencies of the US Government, particularly the National Parks Association. I wish to place on record our thanks to them. My special thanks to Mr Shambhu Hakki, First Secretary, Dr. Moxraj, Teacher of Indian Culture and his team for leading the yoga session, and my other colleagues at the Embassy who have worked tirelessly to make this event a success.

11.I hope you enjoy an invigorating morning of yoga.  Thank you for joining us.