Sunday January 26, 2020

For the First Time, Indian Embassy in Cairo organises Yoga Championship in Egypt

Yoga not as exercise but as an art form is reaching millions from East to West and now to East again

Yoga Championship in Cairo. Image source: Indian Embassy, Cairo
  • The First Yoga Championship in Cairo was held on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan on June 5
  • The youngest Yoga practitioner at the Championship was six years old, and the oldest was 71 years old
  • The Yoga Schools teach different types of Yoga, especially hatha yoga and meditation
In the run-up to the International Day of Yoga, the Embassy of India and the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture played host to a first of its kind Yoga Championship in Cairo on June 5, 2016. The event took place against the backdrop of the Nile in the lush green lawns of the Embassy.
The Yoga Championship was a landmark event in an Arab country and saw the participation of more than 35 highly proficient Egyptian and foreign Yoga enthusiasts. The youngest Yoga practitioner at the Championship was six years old, and the oldest was 71 years old. The participants were divided into four categories — under 18 years, 18-30 years, 30-45 years and above 45 years. Each contestant performed ten basic and five advanced asanas to the tune of Indian music and chanting and loud cheers from the audiences.
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India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya and Second Secretary (Culture) & Acting Director, Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture Rakesh Kawra. Image source: Indian Embassy, Cairo

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Sanjay Bhattacharyya welcomed the growing number of Yoga practitioners in Egypt and said, “The essence of Yoga is to start from the level of one’s capacities and to strive continuously for higher levels of accomplishment.”

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The First Yoga Championship in Cairo was held on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan. Dr Prabhakar Medhikar, one of the three jury members of Yoga Championship said, “The successful conduct of the event on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan is a proof of the appreciation, acceptance and adoption of the Indian way of living a natural and healthy life of universal love, peace and harmony.”

Another jury member Ms Amira Fahmy extolled the virtues of Yoga. She said, “The First Yoga Championship is making history in Egypt. There is a tremendous potential for organising this Championship in future. The Yoga Sessions could be organised in schools as well. It will help schoolchildren become responsible humans.” Dr Bharat Singh was the third jury member.

Yashmine Hashem, one of the participants, said, “It was a beautiful day, and all of us had fun. Winning or losing was not the idea. The biggest takeaway for us was allowing others to inspire us to do our best.”

A participant. Image source: Indian Embassy, Cairo
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Although the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture had started the formal teaching of Yoga way back in the Nineties, the growing popularity of Yoga could be credited to the first International Day of Yoga held in the Egyptian Capital last year. The number of Yoga Schools has grown three-fold in Cairo and today there are around 40 such centres.
The Yoga Schools teach different types of Yoga, especially hatha yoga and meditation, and maintain close contacts with Dr Bharat Singh, who has been providing Yoga lessons to more than 170 students in each term. They also form a bridge between Egypt and India and many of the Yoga students visit India for advanced lessons.  Recently, two Yoga teachers were sent to New Delhi for advanced training under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC).
A yoga pose with a background of the event
A yoga pose with a background of the event. Image source: Indian Embassy, Cairo
The Embassy of India is also conducting the ‘Yoga in Egypt’ Photography Contest. It is open for all Egyptians nationals, and resident non-Egyptians as well. A maximum of two entries per person is allowed, and the deadline for receiving the entries is June 12, 2016.
The 10 best-selected photographs will then qualify for a Facebook competition. The best three entries will be judged on the basis of the number of ‘Likes’ which will have 50% weightage, and remaining weightage will be for the score given by an independent jury.
The best three entries and the winners of the First Yoga Championship will be awarded medals, certificates and prizes on the International Day of Yoga at the Al-Azhar Park. Given the growing popularity of yoga in Egypt, preparations are underway to host the International Day of Yoga 2016 events in Alexandria and Ismailia as well.
– by Shillpi A Singh, a freelance contributor at NewsGram. She may be reached at: 

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is a really good initiative taken. People should be informed about the advantages of yoga as it is the best way to heal and detox our bodies

  • devika todi

    such initiatives should be encouraged.

  • Dhiraj Kumar Pandey

    booming yoga training, that India want a piece of the pie http://www.yogabhawnamission dot com/Extensive-Yoga-Teachers-Training-Program-Be-a-Yogi-02-Months.html

Next Story

CAA, NCR and NPR: Result of India-Pakistan Partition

Reflection on partition as government opens wounds on citizenship

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Since the word "Partition" has figured in the discourse on CAA, NCR, NPR the mind turns towards Maulana Azad, who was fiercely opposed to the country's division. Pixabay


Since the word “Partition” has figured in the discourse on CAA, NCR, NPR the mind turns towards Maulana Azad, who was fiercely opposed to the country’s division. By a coincidence, next month, February 22, happens to be the 61st death anniversary of Maulana Azad. Exactly 30 years after that date, those 30 precious pages of “India Wins Freedom” were taken out of the National Archives which the Maulana had kept away so that all his contemporaries were not around to face embarrassment from the exposures, if any, contained in those pages.

And there were embarrassments galore. The Intelligentsia and the ruling class was disinclined to give much credence to what the Maulana wrote. The absence of debate after the publication of the “complete” edition of “India Wins Freedom” in 1988 was deafening. Nor were threads picked up subsequently in the interest of history. For instance, the Maulana’s assertion that, towards, the end of the negotiations with the British, Sardar Patel appeared to be more convinced of the two-nation theory than Jinnah, deserves to be noted. Rebut it, if need be. To avoid the brutalities which followed the announcement of the Partition plan, an idea was mooted to keep the British Army united.

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“Partition would be unadulterated Hindu Raj,” said Maulana Azad. Pixabay

As a temporary measure, it seemed a sensible idea. But to the Maulana’s surprise, most adamantly opposed to a United Army “even for a day” was the arch pacifist Rajendra Prasad. His opposition was conditioned by a fear that a United Army would remain an “unfinished” business of Partition. And who knows how long this “unfinished business” would linger. What if a United Army becomes a pressure point for reversing Partition? The eagerness to hold onto Partition is manifest in the behaviour of a long list of leaders. The Maulana describes in detail how Sardar Patel had convinced even Mahatma Gandhi that Partition was the best course under the circumstances.

Just as it is today, Assam was the key state in focus in 1946-47. The crucial role it is playing today in the CAA, NRC discourse is not surprising. Fired by sub nationalism and cultural pride, Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi enlisted Mahatma Gandhi’s support in rejecting the Cabinet Mission proposal yoking Assam with Bengal in what was described as zone C in the Mission’s plan. The country was to be stabilized under groups: A, B and C.

The Cabinet Mission’s was the last effort to keep India united. It was endorsed by the Congress on July 7, 1946. But two surprising events made Partition inevitable. One was Assam’s firm rejection of being grouped with Bengal. It feared then as it does now, of being inundated with migration. Second was the new Congress President, Jawaharlal Nehru’s fateful press conference in Mumbai on July 10. Nehru declared that all that had been agreed with the Cabinet Mission and Jinnah, would have to be ratified by a constituent assembly. This stipulation was not in the agreement. Little wonder Jinnah picked up the marbles and walked out of the game. Partition became inevitable.

The Maulana’s opposition to Partition was absolute. He was eloquent about the cultural commerce of over 1,100 years which he always described as his heritage. “We handed over our wealth to her (Bharat) and she unlocked for us the door of her own riches.” He was unambiguous: “Partition would be unadulterated Hindu Raj.” In the light of experience, was he wrong? Was Partition the Congress’s gift to the Hindu right? A Muslim country next door to be hated in perpetuity. An unresolved problem of Muslim majority Kashmir. A 200 million Muslim population — a lethal mix for dedicated Hindu Rashtra Bhakts — all under the canopy of global Islamophobia.

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On reflecting upon the India China Pakistan, the government opens wounds on citizenship. Pixabay

If Pakistan was so much against the interests of Muslims themselves as the Maulana never tired of saying, why should such a large section of Indian Muslims be swept away by its lure? The Maulana’s response to this query was unique:

“The answer is to be found in the attitude of certain communal extremists among the Hindus. When the Muslim League began to speak of Pakistan, they (Hindus) began to read into the scheme a sinister pan Islamic conspiracy. They opposed the idea out of the fear that it foreshadowed a combination of Indian Muslims with trans-Indian Muslim states. This fierce opposition acted as an incentive to the adherents of the League. With simple though untenable logic, they argued that if Hindus were so opposed to Pakistan, surely, it must be of benefit to Muslims. Reason was impossible in an atmosphere of emotional frenzy thus created.” Is the ogre of three Muslim majority states a continuation of the line the Maulana had spotted 75 years ago?

He was convinced that the “chapter of communal differences was a transient phase of Indian Life.” “Differences would persist just as opposition among political parties will continue but, it will be based not on religion but on economic and political issues.”

Nehru’s last interview with Arnold Michaelis in May, 1964, shortly before his death is revealing. First, he dismisses Jinnah almost as a non entity in the freedom struggle. “He was not in the fight for freedom.” In fact, the Muslim League was set up by the British to “Divide us”. He said he, like Gandhiji and others, were opposed to Partition. “Then why did you accept Partition?” Michaelis asks. Nehru’s reply is cryptic.

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“I decided it was better to part than to have constant trouble.” The trouble Nehru refers to was clearly the continuous bickering between the Congress and Muslim League in the interim government of 1946. Obviously, Nehru was exasperated by the apparent incompatibilities in the interim government. While giving vent to his exasperation, did India’s first Prime Minister spare a thought for the minorities, primarily Muslims, 200 million at current reckoning who were riveted on him as their leader. Maulana Azad spelt out exactly what their fate would be. And surprising though it is, the Maulana was nowhere near Nehru’s charismatic hold on a community which learnt only in retrospect that they had been let down by the leader they adored. (IANS)