Inauguration of the First Historic Jageshwar International Yoga Festival
The first ever, two day Jageshwar International Yoga Festival was held on November 5 and 6, jointly organized by the Government of Uttarakhand, KMVN and Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh). Parmarth Niketan Ashram is well known for organizing and hosting the world famous annual International Yoga Festival, from March 1-7 each year, attracting hundreds of Yogis from across India and across the world, which is now in its 17th year. Together with the department of Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand, it was decided that the inspiration and transformation of Parmarth’s International Yoga Festival should also be extended to the Kumaon region during the beautiful Autumn season.
The Jageshwar festival was inaugurated by HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh), Hon’ble Speaker of Government of Uttarakhand, Shri Govind Singh Kunjwal, Bharat Mitraji, Founder-President of Organic India, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh), and senior members of the Ministry of Tourism and KMVN.
The two day Yoga celebration brought together yoga practitioners and enthusiasts from over 15 different countries, including America, Australia, Belgium, China, Czechoslovakia, Colombia, Lithuania, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Israel, South Korea, United Kingdom, Vietnam and many others. The two day festival was filled with Yoga asana, pranayama, meditation classes by expert Yogacharyas, divine discourses by Yoga Masters, international and interfaith musical programmes by world-renowned Musicians,, special aarti and puja, nature walks and much more.
Pujya Swamiji shared, “Uttarakhand is the birthplace of Yoga and Lord Jageshwar, or Lord Shiva, is the ultimate Yogi, so it is very fitting to host the first ever Jageshwar Yoga Festival in this sacred land, one of the twelve holy jyotirlings. With the promotion of such festivals not only will the locals get employment, a great sense of pride in their heritage, as it attracts so many participants from abroad, but also the participants will be deeply touched and uplifted by the warmth and hospitality of its people and by the awakening that comes from practicing Yoga and meditating in this holy land. In this way it’s a mutually beneficial relationship for all.”
He also added, “While the promotion of such sacred heritage sites is essential we must ensure that we develop them as eco-tourist spots in which solid waste and waste-water are effectively managed and energy is conserved as much as possible so that all our festivals and celebrations are green, leaving the least amount of carbon and water footprint. In this way, the rivers can continue to flow unpolluted, the forests can still be lush with indigenous trees and the biodiversity can be maintained and sustained.”
Sadhvi Bhagawatiji welcomed participants by adding, “ You have all been called here to India, to Uttarakhand, to this sacred Jageshwar Dham for a special reason. This is not like a yoga conference in London or Paris or New York or Sydney. In this sacred land of Jageshwar, you not only receive teachings but you also receive the divine touch and divine transformation.”
The festival was also geared at highlighting the historic and sacred Jageshwar Dham, as part of the rich and abundant natural and spiritual heritage of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. As an integral part of the Festival, the participants visited and meditated at the Jageshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as the Lord of Yoga, one of the most ancient and sacred 12 Jyotirlings. All participants were deeply inspired and touched by the holy sanctuary in the lush Deodar forests.
A special song for world peace was sung by internationally renowned musicians, in the spirit of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, bringing together a global family with the sacred chanting of Om Shalom Salam Amen, signifying a yogic union of countries, cultures, colors and creeds.