Remote venue robs Yoga Day charm; VIP attendance saves the day

Lamp lighting

Lamp lighting

CHICAGO: The 2nd International Yoga Day organized by the Indian Consulate on June 25 this year in Chicagoland, would have been a big flop but for some redeeming features
The failure that it nearly met was a sort of writing on the wall the day the Consulate announced it was holding it at a relatively remote village in Sandwich – some100 plus miles away from Chicago downtown. Many were askance how many would go that far to attend the Yoga day program – not only the number of visitors but even the participating organizations. And their worst fears came true.

The number of visitors coming to Timber Creek Inn , the event venue, at best could not exceed 1000 mark , much less than half the figure notched last year which itself was a low mark considering close to 37 million people across USA are actively pursuing this age old science of mental and physical health .

The number of participating organizations setting up booths or conducting Yoga-Meditation classes were also on a lower side and many booths were poorly manned. Those who were at the booths kept wondering if it was worthwhile to come to such an event when hardly a few would come to inquire about their services or products. Many wondered if the Consulate had organized the event just because it had to.
Consul General Dr Ausaf Sayeed, however, was non-plussed at the relative poor attendance saying that the objective was to take Yoga to interior and distant villages. It is a moot point if the success is measured by numbers or the yardstick should be getting Yoga popular far and wide.
“Yoga somewhere near Devon Ave or similar sites in Chicago suburbs might attract thousands but can that be a measuring rod for success? Taking celebrations in places like Sandwich should be deemed a trend setter,” he said

Yoga session

Yoga session

This day long program would have turned out to be a virtual flop but for a few redeeming features. It had a fairly large sized presence of local and state level officials with the Mayor of Sandwich Rick Olson stealing the limelight with his active involvement and inspiring presence.

Also, the start was awesome with the Military band marching outside the venue that was also adorned with Indian flags. The marchers also carried American, Indian and Military flags inside the inn followed by the playing of national anthems of both the countries.

Another plus point was the participating by 140 plus – many non Indians- in the yoga session. Dr Ausaf did a good job in this regard. Yoga school teachers from nearby areas came and attended the event enriching their knowledge with the Yoga practices and techniques. A good number of Seniors too came and partly the credit should go to Ms Santosh Kumar who runs MAFS facilities in Chicagoland
Besides, the Sandwich Mayor Olson, an Indian businessman Dr Deepkant Vyas also needs to be singled out for his huge contribution. He gave his Timber Creek Inn venue cost free besides hosting a few private receptions honoring a 90 year-old Military veteran Reverend Deli and inducing Aldermen and Mayors from nearby villages to grace the event. He also announced scholarship for students attending Webster University in St Louis and setting up a ward for disabled at a Hyderabad based medical facility
The program proceeded with a welcome speech by Indian CG Dr Ausuf Sayeed, traditional Lamp lighting ceremony; launch of the Souvenir a spiritually enlightening speech by Swami IshtamandaJi, the yoga session, and meditation lessons. Congratulatory messages from Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel, Oakbrook Mayor Gopal Lal Malani, Sandwich Mayor Olson and Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Proclaimed June 25 2016 as Yoga Day in Illinois

Jayanti Oza adds:
On June 25th, Consulate General of India Chicago organized 2nd International Day of Yoga at Timber Creek Inn, Sandwich IL. More than 500 participants got together.
The program began at 10 am with National Anthem of Republic of India & United States of America followed by special video messages from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Consul General of India, Chicago, Dr Ausaf Sayeed, welcomed all guests and participants. Lamp lighting was done by Richard Olson (Mayor of Sandwich) Swami Ishatmananda (president of Vivekanandan Vedanta Society of Chicago) and other invited guests. CG read International yoga Day messages from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Greetings, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Proclamation,

On this occasion a special souvenir on 2nd International Yoga Day was released by dignitaries. Deepak Kant Vyas, Chairman of St Louis based Redberri Corporation, made the concluding remarks.
After this, different Yoga activities took place with Common Asanas demonstrated by Art of Living Foundation, Surya Namaskar (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh), Meditation & Guided Meditation self-Realization Exercise by Sahaja Yoga Meditation, Introduction to Raj Yoga and Meditation Workshop by Brahma Kumaris, Stop Diabetic Movement by SEWA International.

Souvenir launch

Souvenir launch

After the break the program centered around Surat Shad Yoga, An Ageless Technique by Science of Spirituality, Sound of Isha Music Program and Yoga for beginners by Isha Institute of Inner Science. Talks were given on the science of Kriya Yoga and meditation by Temple of Harmony, Guided relaxation and Meditation by Soul, Love, Fest (Heartfulness), a documentary screening by Sahaja Yoga meditation, photo and books exhibition on Yoga by the Consulate of Chicago, Chair Yoga and low back pain by Sri Venkatesware Swami of Balaji Temple.

The vote of thanks was proposed by the Consul OP Meena. He expressed gratefulness to all who helped the Consulate for staging the International Yoga Day.
The dignitaries who attended the event were Sen. Tim Bivins, Rep. Tom Demmer, Economic Development Director Jim Teckenbrock & Guest,
Mayor of Sandwich Rick Olson, Mayor Robert Housler (Plano), Chief Jim Bianchi, Alderman David Fraser, Alderman Fran Moran, Alderman Cara Killey, Alderman Doug Scheidecker, Alderman Pete Dell, Alderman Rich Robinson, Alderman Bill McMahon, Alderman Les Redden, Engineer Tom Horak, Reverend Robert Dell, Jerry Lundeen, Hardik Bhatt, Chief Information Officer, Office of Governor Bruce Rauner and Swami Ishtamananda Ji.

Ramesh Soparawala & Jayanti Oza
India Post News Service

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