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5th International Day of Yoga by Consulate General of India in Atlanta Celebrated with Great Joy and Enthusiasm.
By Geeta Mehrotra and Mahadev Desai
Pics.by: SFA Productions. Vinod Sharma


Over a thousand yoga-lovers from diverse communities in Atlanta and representatives from 50 plus community organizations came together at the Heritage Park, Sandy Springs, Sunday morning, June 23, 2019, to participate in the 5th International Day of Yoga,(with an appropriate theme: Climate Action’); organized by the Consulate General of India in Atlanta and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Consul General of India, Hon.Dr.Swati Kulkarni, Consul Shailesh Lakhtakia, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, Dir.Gen.of Taiwan Hon.Vincent Liu and his wife Gloria Chiao graced and inaugurated the event. After the traditional lighting of the diya (lamp) by Dr.Swati, Mayor Rusty Paul, Consul Shailesh Lakhtakia, and core committee team members;

Consul Shailesh Lakhtakia with the Volunteers at the 5th IDY2019

Founding member of idyatlanta.org, Ajay Houde warmly welcomed all. “Today is the 5th International Day of Yoga. It is being celebrated all over the world and as India’s Prime Min.Modi ji said it has become a movement for promoting health, harmony and peace.”
The Counsel Shailesh also warmly welcomed all to the 5th IDY in Atlanta, being observed with the support of the City of Sandy Springs. “The Ministry of Ayush, has conveyed; ’IDY is for all of us. Community driven and harmonious mass yoga demonstrations are taking place in thousands of venues and virtually every neighborhood across the country on 21st June,2019. The Min.of Ayush invites you to join the IDY movement by selecting an appropriate IDY event near you and participating in the same.’

Diya Lighting by Dr.Swati Kulkarni at 5th IDY 21019

In the video message, India’s Prime Min.Narendra Modi ji hailed yoga as one of the most precious gifts given by the ancient sages to humankind. He exhorted the yoga practitioners to resolve every year to get as many people as possible to yoga and help make yoga a ‘mass movement ‘for better physical and mental well-being. Yoga is a path to completeness. The way yoga unites body, mind and spirit, it is now uniting the world, he asserted. People suffer from stress –related illnesses and also lifestyle- related diseases. Yoga is ideal for relaxation. In a distracted world, yoga helps to focus.”
In her lively remarks, Dr.Swati wished everyone a Happy and Healthy Yoga Day. Today is the 5th edition of IDY.21st June, which coincides with the summer solstice was declared by the UN General Assembly as IDY, to highlight the virtues of practicing yoga. India’s erstwhile foreign Min.had declared yoga as the best soft power India has to bring the world together and help in ending increasing trend of violence in the world.


Yoga is a science, it is a way of life, and it is a philosophy of life which gives you good health on all the fronts, physical, mental, moral, spiritual and social. We all encounter stress everywhere on many fronts. We all know the disadvantages of sedentary life, indoor life, and life without any physical activity. We are in a rat race coping with peer pressure and competition. As someone said, These ae the days of fast food and slow digestion,(laughter),days of steep profits and shallow relationships, days of fancier houses but broken homes,obesity,disposable diapers, throwaway morality and less empathetic society, pills that promise a cure but instead kill us. Yoga gives cure to all this through performance of asanas, postural exercises), activities of maximum endurances, contraction and relaxation of muscles which helps to achieve maximum benefit with minimum time. Equation is less is=to more. Through mental techniques (Pranayama)--slow and deeper breath helps develop concentration and short circuit to overcome negativity. Meditation (Dhyana) helps o discipline mental activity. For a yoga practitioner Saatvik (vegetarian) diet is considered the best. For yoga, all one needs is small space, a yoga mat, your body and mind. Yoga has preventive and curative and therapeutic values. It short circuits the mental patterns by increasing the oxygen supply and developing immunity. She emphasized that religion has nothing to do with yoga, so it promotes communal harmony, cohesiveness, national harmony and world peace. Yoga regards health as every person’s natural privilege. Yoga is for all and all is for yoga. You have to follow Common Yoga Protocol (CYP). Through yoga, we remove life’s imbalances and we provide ourselves with self-assertion, self-expression and self-actualization. Let’s make yoga viral today because it is being celebrated in huge numbers by 170 Consulate missions all over the world, so let us also contribute from our corner of the world.

I take this opportunity to thank the City of Sandy Springs, Sandy Springs Mayor, our dignitary guests, and to all the Organizers, volunteers and sponsors. Thanks again to all who have worked hard for the past several months to organize this event.”
Mayor Paul warmly greeted all with a ‘Namaste’. “What a beautiful sight and what a marvelous day to celebrate the IDY, which is one of the highlights of our year in our community. We love having the Indian Consulate in our community here.It is a great asset. We have a marvelous relationship with the current Consul General and the previous Consul-General. We also welcome the other members from the Consulate corps and the esteemed guests from the metropolitan area. Have a great International Yoga Day”.

Sudhir Agarwal, from the core Committee team introduced the two emcees. Vrishali Deshpande Angara, is the winner of Mrs. Bharat USA Classic 2018, a trained Hindustani classical singer, anchor, dancer and a health-care recruiter by profession. Inspired by Sadhguru’s inner engineering, she firmly believes that it’s the mind-body connection which brings peace and harmony in her life. The other emcee, Dr. Somveer Arya, is a Ph.D. Yoga from Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar, and an experienced former Yoga expert in DD Vyas Channel under the University Grant Commission of India. He is currently a teacher of Indian Culture and Yoga in Consulate General of India, Atlanta, under the MEA. The emcees took turns to lead the gathering in common yoga protocol, created by the India Govt.

Following the chanting of the highly revered Gayatri Mantra, by the young members of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the emcees, with the help of seasoned yoga volunteers on the stage, took turns to guide the attendees in performing an array of asanas beginning with basic and easy to more advanced. As soft music played in the background, the attendees collectively performed warm up practices, standing & sitting asanas (postures); Sitting, Prone, Supine asanas (postures) by yoga practitioners from the HSS,Vedik Temple(GAVT)group; Lifetime Group; and Chinmaya Mission; Kapala Bhati & Pranayama by PatanjaliYogpeeth, (Breath altering practices); Dhyana (Meditation) and Sankalpa (Commitment to the truth).The gathering, led by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and Art of Living’s Art Excel students performed ten steps Surya Namaskar(sun salutations) for 13 times!
The gathering applauded the demonstration of the difficult Nauli kriya by Dr.Somveer.

Sahajyoga meditation volunteers also guided with steps for Kundalini Yoga for awakening Kundalini energy. Art of Living volunteers guided the gathering in meditation practice.
After a session of twisting and bending in the very warm weather what better to lighten up than a pleasant treat in the form of ‘Laughing yoga’! led by Dinesh Purohit. Soon the park reverberated with joyous, enthusiastic loud ho ho, ha ha and ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! No doubt this energized all the participants!

Heartfulness Institute is a global nonprofit organization with thousands of volunteer trainers who serve more than a million meditators in over 130 countries. Its mission is to help develop peaceful, healthy and holistically individuals and children, families and communities, organizations and businesses, with a spirit of human well-being and oneness. Heartfulness relaxation and meditation techniques are studied and proven to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep, enhancing emotional intelligence and exploring the heights and depths of human consciousness. Heartfulness is offered free to anyone who is interested by over 40 trainers all over metro-Atlanta. Please visit http://www/heartfulness.org The Atlanta volunteer trainers shared the Heartfulness meditation prayer with the gathering. Pyramid Spiritual Society movement guided the gathering on ‘ana-pana-sati’ breath meditation.
The participants were treated to a few dance, and music items. Maria Martynova performed a scintillating and fast-paced vigorous Tandava dance filled with rhythm, energy, poise, throbbing music and lyrics.
HUM (Hearts Uniting Mankind) Sound journey was a hypnotic musical presentation by Ashley Chase who’s singing of the quartz crystal bowls was awesome. She was accompanied on the stage by percussionist djembe drummer Quinton Wayne and Nyeemah Soulsayer, a multi-talented and accomplished flautist, proficient in native American and African flutes.

Yoga routine in a dance form was presented by Shubhra Singh Chohan and Hetal Mehta, Bharti Khatri, Elliott Michele and Pradnya Kharat of the Dreamgirls Entertainment. The dance choreographed by Shubhra Singh and Pradnya and coordinated by Hetal Mehta was a well synchronized dance with music and yoga postures and was riveting to watch.

This was followed with another lively, graceful, energetic dance by the Art of Living members to throbbing music and song.
One of the booths near the entrance to the Heritage Park with the banner ‘Consul General of India, Atlanta celebrating 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi: Vegetarian Food Festival, was manned by volunteers who gave out brown bags containing fruit,cookies,soft beverage, power bars,etc.
In his Vote of Thanks, Consul Lakhtakia thanked Dr.Kulkarni, Consulate staff, City of Sandy Springs, all participating Organizations, sponsors, media and volunteers.
The program concluded with the closing sankalpa by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh volunteers and Shanti mantra by Sadhvi Prempuri.

The sound system was ably managed by Sandeep Savla and Saurabh Sharma. More than 100 volunteers put enormous efforts to make this program a grand success. Very effective use of social media was made to publicize the 5th IDY and also to exhort the community to attend it. The India Consulate, Atlanta and Sudhir Agarwal;Rajan Vedak, Ajay Houde, Rajeev Menon, Vasudev Patel, Manoj Barot(Narayan Seva Sansthan), Dr.Somveer,Dr.Trushna Rao,Dr. Shrinath Nadig, and Viral Trivedi to mention a few did a commendable job in ensuring a flawless and memorable celebration of the 5th IDY. 

' Jul-04-2019