UN's decision to mark yoga day shows India's soft power: Sushma Swaraj

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New York, June 22:  UN's decision to commemorate the International Day of Yoga underlines the appreciation for India and its growing soft power, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.

Swaraj, who addressed the first International Day of Yoga celebrations at the UN, also attended a function marking the day at the Hindu Temple Society of North America yesterday. The way the day was commemorated around the globe, "the world had made the first International Day of Yoga its own," Swaraj said at the Hindu Temple Society of North America.

Also read: In Pics: How politicians celebrated maiden International Day of Yoga

Yoga is about self discovery: Swaraj

While yoga is one of India's most important gifts to the world, the UN's decision to commemorate the day underlines the appreciation for India and its growing soft power, she said. Swaraj said the colour of the skin, religious or political affiliation or the nationality did not matter for the hundreds of thousands that performed yoga in the city.

"They were all united by the awareness of the power of yoga," she said. The External Affairs Minister said "today we have made a good beginning" and the future is filled with immense possibilities. She cited the benefits of yoga in the treatment of asthma, diabetes, drug addiction and heart disease.

"Yoga is about self discovery and self acceptance," she said.

Yesterday, while addressing the International Day of Yoga celebrations at the UN, she had said yoga should not be seen as belonging to any particular religion and the ancient spiritual practice can serve as the "perfect antidote" to stem "negative tendencies" and move humanity on the path of peace in a world beset by violence and conflict.

June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by UN

"The entire world is one family, and we can unite it with Yoga. At a time when ethnic conflicts and extremist violence are threatening to destabilise societies, Yoga can serve as the perfect antidote to stem such negative tendencies and move us on the path of harmony and peace," she had said.

Tens of thousands yoga enthusiasts around the world yesterday took to mats in a symbol of universality of the ancient Indian spiritual practice as they marked the maiden International Day of Yoga.

June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the UN in December last year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the idea during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September.

The proposal was co-sponsored by 177 nations, out of 193 member states of the UN, creating a new record for the highest number of co-sponsoring countries ever for an UNGA Resolution of such nature.

PTI

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