Durban’s colourfully festive, long weekend celebration of India’s 5 000-year-old ancient art and culture of yoga drew a record-breaking crowd of 2 340 participants and enthusiasts on Father’s Day, making it South Africa’s biggest celebration of the United Nations-declared International Day of Yoga observed worldwide.Now major plans are afoot to host a mammoth two-day festival at the city’s landmark Golden Mile for the tenth anniversary in 2024 to coincide with SA’s 30th milestone of democratic independence, freedom and social justice.
Partnership for Yoga and Peace: Ishwar Ramlutchman Prince Mabheka Zulu welcomed the ANC Deputy Minister of Health,Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo,and Swami Lokasankarananda of the Sivananda Yoga Vedenta Centre

A jubilant chief coordinator, Richards Bay entrepreneur and philanthropist, Ishwar Ramlutchman, a respected member of the AmaZulu Royal Family as Prince Mabheka Zulu, said that communication and communiqué would soon be underway to reach out to the United Nations in New York to fly its iconic blue flag at next year’s global yoga milestone, taking place at the Durban Amphitheatre on 21 to 22 June – a festival, he added, that would attract the largest contingent of local, global and continent-wide participants, political leaders and VIP guests.“Sunday’s yoga festival broke previous records over the past nine years, since the world peace body recognised yoga as the universal health awareness day theme. 

The amazing turnout at the expo proved that it is the fastest growing mind, body and soul exercise. Too often we underestimate our capacity, camaraderie, organisational skills and the sheer people’s power of our culturally-diverse communities and Ubuntu.“I believe yoga is a new pillar of peace to improve social cohesion and to face our economic challenges and opportunities. 

Following the spectacular splash of colour and cacophony of sound, we believe that the United Nations, our progressive government and African nations should be part of this extraordinary event next year,” said Ramlutchman.As president of the Sivananda World Peace Foundation in South Africa, Ramlutchman, a recent visitor to the spiritual home of yoga in Rishikesh, India, has single-handedly inspired the organising, hosting, branding, media and marketing of the International Day of Yoga with his 45-member committee of volunteers since 2014.The inaugural celebration has now grown exponentially – considering that the biggest outdoor, post-pandemic gathering had ticked all the boxes. 

The two-hour long session of health and fitness sequence was achieved without any hitches or glitches, with Indian-based radio stations, Lotus Fm and Hindvani, broadcasting the jamboree live to millions of listeners.KZN’s political top brass leadership also threw their weight behind the celebration, with Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube posting an official invitation on social media and keep-fit champion, Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, being among the high-profile early starters put through their paces by a dozen instructors.At 96 years old, KZN’s elder statesman, founding president emeritus of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, had incredibly completed eight out of the nine sessions.

“What we are doing today is vitally important. We live in a world full of distractions. For most of us, the first thing we do upon waking is check our phones. Is there an Instagram update? Anything important on our newsfeed? What time is loadshedding? Did anyone like our Tweet from last night?“Yoga is much more than a form of exercise. 

It is an ancient practice that promotes physical, mental and spiritual balance. It is wonderful that South Africa, and particularly Durban, has embraced the marking of International Yoga Day through this mass demonstration of yoga,” SA’s oldest MP said.Dr Dhlomo raised the profile of yoga with his speech: 

“We have joined hands to raise awareness of the many benefits of practising yoga as one of the physical activities that promote health and mental well-being. Yoga is aligned to the Health Department’s mission of promoting a long and healthy life for all through the prevention of non-communicable diseases.“People around the world embrace yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated, and to manage mental health challenges including stress and depression which are known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. 

Yoga is more than a physical activity, but a way to discover the sense of oneness with you, the world and nature. It plays an important role in increasing blood flow, muscle strength and tone, maintaining a balanced metabolism and gradually contributes to weight reduction while improving mobility in people with lower back pain.”As the crowds happily departed to celebrate Father’s Day, Ramlutchman enthused: “Personally, I am very happy with the overall organisation of the event and the enthusiasm and happiness that encircled this fascinating outdoor festivity of yoga. 

We were blessed by sunshine and positive energy that has set the pace for all to unite our diverse and disadvantaged communities around the common threads of cultural diversity, unity, social cohesion, humanity and respect for each other’s dignity.

”Today, two billion people worldwide practise yoga regularly, a unique spiritual philosophy and religious tradition. 

Durban has added 2 340 participants who were feted with colourful T-shirts, bottled water and goodie bags of nutritious food and fruits.

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