Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday led India in breaking the Guinness World Record (GWR) for the largest number of people doing yoga at one venue — the stately Rajpath which he called “Yogpath” — on a day when 192 countries celebrated the first International Day of Yoga.
And, foreigners helped India clock a second record — that of the largest number of foreign nationals in a single yoga lesson with participation from 84 countries.
When he stepped up to address the gathering of yoga practitioners lined up on Rajpath — which has for 65 years been associated with the Republic Day parade showcasing the mosaic that is India — Mr. Modi’s first words were: “Had anyone ever even thought that Rajpath could become Yogpath?”
On the dais with him were leading yoga practitioners including Baba Ramdev and the Vice-Chancellor of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Swami Atmapriyananda. In his brief statement, Mr. Modi said this was not just a day-long celebration but the beginning of an era to peace and harmony. Later in the day, at another function, he went on to caution against the commodification of yoga.
Wrapping up his brief speech, the Prime Minister left the dais to take his position at the head of the thousands lined up for the yoga demonstration which began with the chanting of “Om”. Muslims participating in the demonstration could be seen holding their hands up in salutation ( dua mode ) instead of the namaskar, salutation with folded hands.
After doing the warm-up exercises, Mr. Modi took a break at the Vrikshasana stage, in which people balanced themselves on one leg with the other folded at the knee, to walk down the rows of participants.
Vrikshasana over, he was back doing the rest of the routine for the next half an hour which signed off with a chanting of the shanti path . In all, 35,985 people powered India’s record-setting endeavour.
Among the prominent personalities who joined Mr. Modi in attempting the record were the warring duo of Delhi politics — Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung — and heads of diplomatic missions.