By Gurmukh Singh
MISSISSAUGA: Over 10,000 people will converge on the International Centre in Toronto to participate in International Yoga Day next month, making it the biggest-ever yoga gathering in North America.
“Never before has a yoga event of this scale ever happened in North America. Indeed, it will be the biggest gathering for yoga anywhere outside of India,’’ says Satish Thakkar who is the main organizer of the event in Canada’s biggest city.
A former president of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, Thakkar says, “Happily, the first-ever mega yoga event in Canada also coincides with the country’s 150th anniversary.’’
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Sister Shivani Verma will lead the yoga event.
“Baba Ramdev will lead the morning yoga session of the day-long celebrations. Sister Shivani Varma of Brahma Kumaris, who has a significant global following, will lead a RajYoga meditation session in the evening,’’ says Thakkar heads the International Yoga Day Canada (IYDC) which is organizing the mega event.
Many top Canadian leaders are expected to attend the event.
“We are sending invitations to top leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne. As yoga is becoming very popular in Canada, I am sure this event will broaden its popularity among mainstream Canadians,’’ he says.
Since the declaration of the International Day of Yoga by the UN two years ago, the popularity of yoga has increased sharply in Canada. “Since 2015, various Indo-Canadians have been celebrating yoga day separately, but this year at the initiative of the Indian consul general here, all associations have come together for this massive show of yoga. Three major cities around Toronto – Brampton, Markham and Richmond Hill – have also officially joined the event,’’ says Takhar who came to Canada in the mid-1990s.
A chartered accountant by profession, he says yoga makes much more sense in the Canadian context because “this country is spending way too much on stress-related health problems’’ which can be easily controlled by practising yoga and meditation.
“A recent medical study shows that up to 80 percent of visits to doctors are stress-related. Imagine how much Canada will save if yoga and meditation are adopted quickly.’’
Citing the latest Canadian census which says that there are more seniors than young children under 15 in this country today, he says, “If Canada wants to cut health bills and make its seniors live a happy life, then popularize yoga among all segments of the population. It is your best bet for mental and physical well-being.’’
A long-term practitioner of yoga and meditation, Thakkar says, “After the mega yoga show, we would urge Canadian policymakers to adopt this ancient Indian science as a healthcare preventive tool. Yoga is such a `holistic thing and Canada needs it badly.’’
Just like the IIFA awards in Toronto in 2011 left a Bollywood stamp on Canada, Thakkar says, “The mega yoga event will also lead to the popularity of yoga in this country.’’ (The article appeared in the Times of India on Monday, May 15)