Covid dampens India’s annual Yoga Day celebrations

·2-min read
People perform yoga in a park on International Yoga Day in New Delhi on 21 June, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
People perform yoga in a park on International Yoga Day in New Delhi on 21 June, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

India’s border police personnel performed yoga at an altitude of 15,000 feet as part of the seventh international Yoga Day celebrations dampened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation, saying “today when the whole world is battling the coronavirus pandemic, yoga remains a ray of hope.”

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were seen practicing yoga by the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. Its personnel from the Arunachal Pradesh Animal Training School in Lohitpur also performed yoga with horses, according to reports.

Indians performed yoga in front of the Red Fort monument in the national capital Delhi, on rafts in the Yamuna river and in local trains in Mumbai city.

To mark the day, Indian Navy personnel were also seen doing yoga onboard naval ships, including Airavat which is currently deployed at Camranh Bay, Vietnam.

Mr Modi has been a proponent of yoga and even participated in events where he performed yoga with thousands of people before the pandemic. But he chose to address the nation virtually on Monday as Covid-19 continues to ravage the country.

He said when the pandemic emerged, no country was prepared for it in terms of capabilities, resources, or mental toughness. “We have seen that yoga became a great medium of self-confidence in the face of adversity. Yoga helped people to muster confidence to fight this disease,” he said.

The prime minister also said that frontline warriors and doctors have told him they made yoga their “protective shield” in the fight against Covid-19.

President Ram Nath Kovind also celebrated the day with a private yoga session. Sharing a photo of himself doing yoga on Twitter, he said that it was “one of India’s great gifts to the world, it can be especially helpful during Covid-19”.

India reported 53,256 infections, the lowest since 24 March, in the 24 hours ending Monday morning, and 1,422 deaths.

The country’s overall caseload has increased to 29.9 million, and fatalities stand at 388,135.

While the number of cases are coming down and most cities have begun lifting lockdown curbs, experts have called for caution as only about five per cent of India’s population is fully inoculated.

Dr Randeep Guleria, chief of All India Institute Of Medical Science, has said that a third wave of Covid-19 in India is "inevitable” and it could hit the country within the next six to eight weeks.

India on Monday also began a nationwide campaign of free Covid-19 shots for all adults after Mr Modi announced a policy reversal earlier this month.

This comes after the federal government was severely criticised as states flagged a shortage of vaccines and some were forced to either shut some centres or temporarily suspend the drive altogether.

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