Europe’s Tryst with Yoga
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call at the UN for an International Day of Yoga reverberated in the European Parliament, the world’s largest legislative body, on April 21, 2015, with internationally known Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar leading a major yoga event. The event titled “The Yoga Way” was organised by the Indian embassy in Brussels in cooperation with the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with India.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s discourse, the interactive question and answer session and the relaxing meditation exercises created a unique buzz among the large audience comprising members of the European Parliament, European Union (EU) officials and ambassadors from various countries. As a curtain raiser event to celebrate the International Day of Yoga on June 21, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was invited to speak on yoga and conduct a meditation session.
At the instance of Mr Manjeev Singh Puri, Indian Ambassador to the EU, Belgium and Luxembourg, the event was supported by members of all political groups in the European Parliament. This was perhaps for the first time that any event had found resonance among members of all the political groups in the European Parliament. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was received at the European Parliament by Puri and Members of European Parliament (MEPs) Mr Geoffrey Van Orden, Mr Nirj Deva, Ms Neena Gill, Mr Jo Leinen and Mr Alojz Peterle.
A video of Prime Minister Modi’s exhortation at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for declaration of the International Day of Yoga by the UN started the event. Mr Van Orden, Chairperson of the Delegation for Relations with India, welcomed the guests and said that the delegation was happy to organise yoga in the European Parliament. Mr Puri said that yoga was important for a holistic approach to health and well-being and was one of the many Indian contributions to the world. Mr Deva, a British MEP of Sri Lankan origin, and a close associate of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, delivered the vote of thanks.
The European People’s Party, the largest political group in the European Parliament, issued a statement saying, “Sri Sri’s presence in the European Parliament has been a true inspiration for European leaders to strongly engage in more inter-cultural dialogue that would lead towards non-violent societies.”