Thousands of South Africans gathered at four different venues across the country over the weekend for an early start to the International Day of Yoga (IDY) on June 21.

In Johannesburg on Saturday, more than 1,000 people from different communities gathered on the pitch at the Wanderers Stadium for a yoga session on a crisp winter morning before spending the rest of the day in workshops showcasing the various types of yoga.

“This is quite a historic day for us, as the Wanderers, where the IPL was played a few years ago, has never been used for an exercise of this nature,” said Consul General for India K J Srinivasa.

 “Besides using a weekend to make it convenient for everyone to celebrate IDY when it falls on a weekday, today also marks the public holiday of Youth Day in South Africa, commemorating the young students who made a huge sacrifice in 1976 to fight against the imposition of unequal education in Black schools. 

It ties in very well with our objective of encouraging youth to take up yoga for the multiple benefits that it brings,” he said.

 “Hundreds of youth are expected to join more than 2,000 people, including senior citizens, educationists and members of the South African Police Services who were thrilled to join in last year and have roped in many more colleagues in Soweto on June 21, when an IDY programme takes place there, jointly hosted by the Art of Living Foundation,” Srinivasa added.

The call on the youth to take up yoga was echoed by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal province in an address read out on his behalf when over 2,000 yoga enthusiasts gathered on the Durban beachfront on Sunday. 

They joined local civic and political leaders for a yoga session hosted by the Consulate General of India in the city and the Sivananda World Peace Foundation.Veteran politician and leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, 90, again joined the crowd there, as he has since the inception of IDY four years ago. 

“We also had the pleasure of Acting Chief Justice Geeta Mittal from the Delhi High Court joining us as we handed out prizes to ten winners in an essay competition for various school grades that we ran in relation to IDY,” said Consul General in Durban, Shashank Vikram

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