The Indian Embassy in Cairo played host to the second International Day of Yoga at the scenic Al-Azhar Park on June 21, 2016. The historical monuments — the minarets of famous mosques and the iconic Saladin Citadel — formed the perfect backdrop for the event that was held after Iftaar during the holy month of Ramadan.
It saw a participation of more than 1,500 yoga enthusiasts including politicians, businessmen, diplomats, media persons and members of the Indian community. Imaj Hassan Ahmed, Miss Earth Egypt 2015, was the chief guest of the event.
Highlighting the importance of the day that was celebrated on June 21 in 193 countries around the world, India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya, said, “Yoga is India’s gift to humanity and in just a year’s time, it has gained immense popularity in the Land of Pyramids. The second International Day of Yoga coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, and they both promote the same spiritual aspirations of people.”
He added that the holy month calls for self-control, spiritual development and aims at attaining peace of mind. “These concepts are in line with the core principles of yoga to achieve peace through meditation and self-discipline,” Bhattacharyya said.
As a thoughtful gesture, the Indian Embassy had scheduled the celebration in the evening as most people fast during the day. Organising the event after dusk saw the participation of Indians, Egyptians and other foreigners in large numbers.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga was ‘Connect the Youth’. In tune with it, more than 400 school children, 40 yoga instructors and their students participated in the event and presented a special performance based on yoga asanas. Even regular visitors of the park enthusiastically joined in the celebration.
A local music group performed a few instrumental songs that opened the spectacular event on Tuesday evening, June 21. The yoga instructors took turns in conducting a variety of meditation and exercise sessions to enthral those present at the venue. The Ambassador delivered the welcome address; it was followed by the chief guest’s speech. In her address, Miss Earth Egypt 2015 said, “Yoga has become popular all over the world because of its benefits. It helps us improve our behaviour towards ourselves and nature as well.”
The Common Yoga Protocol was played in Arabic, and all the participants enthusiastically performed yoga asanas. There were also many other activities including yoga dance, group yoga, circle yoga, advanced yoga, meditation, and cultural performances as part of the celebration.
Ahmed Darwish, Chairman of the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone, told that he is a recent convert to yoga and but though he is a late starter, he is a sincere practitioner.
In the run up to the second International Day of Yoga, the Indian Embassy had conducted an online photography competition titled “Yoga in Egypt”. A first-ever yoga championship was also organised by the Indian Embassy on June 5, 2016, under four categories, with the age of participants ranging from 4 to 72 years. The winners of the two competitions were awarded prizes during the event at Al-Azhar Park on June 21, 2016.
The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) in Cairo has been conducting yoga classes since 1993. But in the past few years, yoga has become quite popular in Egypt, and many gyms, clubs and organisations have started conducting yoga classes. The number of yoga schools in Egypt has increased threefold in the last one year, from 14 to 40. The growing popularity was reflected in the participation and support of a vast number of people at the International Day of Yoga event.
In addition to the ‘Yoga at the Park’ event held in Cairo, the Indian Embassy is organising such celebrations in two other Egyptian cities — ‘Yoga by the Suez Canal’ in Ismailia on June 23 and ‘Yoga at the Beach’ in Alexandria on June 25 — to mark the occasion.
Two more events — ‘Yoga by the Suez Canal’ in Ismailia on June 23 and ‘Yoga at the Beach’ in Alexandria on June 25 — will be held to celebrate the occasion
-by Shillpi A Singh, a freelance contributor at NewsGram. She can be contacted at [email protected]