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Massive preparations underway to commemorate Yoga day at UN

PTI 17 Jun 2015, 13:03:28 IST

United Nations: Nearly two billion people across 192 nations would have participated in commemorating the first International Yoga Day by the end of June 21, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj presiding over the celebrations at the world body, India's envoy here has said.

Massive preparations are underway to commemorate the first International Day of Yoga on Sunday.

The headline event will be at the UN headquarters where Swaraj will be joined by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, Indian spiritual leaderĀ  Sri Ravi Shankar and several other diplomats, India's Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji told reporters.

Mukerji said 256 cities in 192 counties, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia will be celebrating the first annual day of Yoga.

It is estimated that "two billion (people) will have participated by the end of June 21 in commemorating the yoga day," across the world with the only exception of conflict-ridden Yemen, Mukerji said yesterday.

He said Swaraj will reach New York on Saturday and will preside over the two-hour commemoration next day at the world body to be attended by hundreds, including school children from India and the UN International School.

He added that Swaraj will be representing India as the country which had initiated the idea of having an annual international yoga day.

Swaraj, along with the UN Chief and the UNGA President, would then head to Times Square where an estimated 30,000 people would perform Yoga and where the UN celebrations would also be broadcast live on the giant electric screens.

The visit by Swaraj comes in the wake a controversy that has erupted in India over the BJP leader helping former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi get travel documents from the UK.

Sources sounded a cautiously optimistic note that the domestic controversy would not overshadow the yoga day celebrations, for which preparations have been going on for several months now.