Simhastha to have a yoga sideshow; major international footfall expected

On the sidelines of the epic-scale Simhastha Mahakumbh in Ujjain next year, participants will also have the opportunity to take part in Yoga Kumbh which, prima facie, seems to be a unique initiative. About one lakh yoga enthusiasts are expected to participate in this sideshow which is also likely to draw a sizeable chunk of visitors from the overseas markets.

Grand Simhastha to have a yoga sideshow; delegates expected from over 50 countries1234Simhastha Mahakumbh (scheduled between April 22nd to May 21st next year) in Ujjain is slated to witness one of the largest religious gathering in the country in the recent years. Madhya Pradesh government is expecting a staggering footfall of over 50 million (including international religious tourists) to descend at the banks of the Shipra river to participate in the month-long affair. While religious fervour will reach to its crescendo during the course of the event, Simhastha Mahakumbh is also promising to offer much more than that. India’s newly acquired recognition as world’s yoga land is likely to be exhibited on a large scale with the addition of first of its kind Yoga Kumbh event on the sidelines of Simhastha.

Yoga Kumbh is an initiative of the world renowned yoga institute – Ujjain Yoga Life Society which is being supported by several Indian and global bodies. Madhya Pradesh government is supporting this side-show by providing 12 acres of dedicated space at the Simhastha site. “This is the first time that such a massive event is being organised during the Kumbh Melas. Given the surge in the world’s interest in yoga after that massive International Day for Yoga celebration last year, we thought Simhastha would be an apt platform to highlight our intrinsic strength,” said Pundit Radheshyam Mishra, Founder & Director, Ujjain Yoga Life Society. The society has been organising an international yoga summit in Ujjain every year since 2010 and for Yoga Kumbh, it has partnered with reputed global agencies like European Yoga Confederation and the US-based Amrit Yoga society.

To offer the flavour of yoga in a holistic sense, the organisers have planned to conduct several activities under one roof. At the beginning of Simhastha, the Yoga Kumbh pavilion will feature an International Seminar on Pilgrimage where scholars from several countries will make their presentation. This will be followed by International Yoga Seminar (April 26th-30th) which will have “Yoga for Peace and Humanity” as its central theme. At the beginning of May, the participants in Yoga Kumbh will be witness to an International Film Festival which will screen 12 best films on spirituality and yoga. Global Yoga Convention, stretched across ten days, will be the longest programme of Yoga Kumbh wherein participants will be given lessons in yoga for total life management. This spell is likely to draw major crowd as stalwarts from various social spheres (mostly religion and yoga) will interact with the yoga enthusiasts. Some of the prominent names which are likely to be present during the Global Yoga Convention include His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Oprah Winfrey, etc. “We are getting support from several leading personalities and their presence will be a major strength for us to promote Yoga at Simhastha,” Pundit Radheshyam Mishra pointed out.

The organisers are expecting to see the attendance of nearly a lakh yoga enthusiasts during the month long event with about 10 percent of them coming from the overseas market. “All our national and international partners are promoting this show quite aggressively and so far we have received confirmed registration from nearly 40,000 participants on a cumulative basis. Out of these, over 4000 registrations have come from the foreign markets. And this number is going to grow as the d-day inches close. We expect participants from over 50 countries to attend this unique event,” Mishra emphasised.

An official of Ujjain Yoga Life Society confirmed that most of the overseas registration have come from European countries like France, the UK and Norway. A major delegation of over 300 from Brazil will be participating and they have booked a charter with Emirates to arrive in the country. Apart from these, the surprise confirmations are pouring in from Islamic countries. “A delegation comprising 40 members from Pakistan has just informed us of their participation. Similarly, we are noticing a surge in registration from Gulf countries. This simply goes on to show that the brouhaha over Surya Namaskar on religious grounds which we had seen a few months ago in the country was meaningless. Yoga, as an ancient wellness treasure, simply transcends all religious divides and our gathering at Yoga Kumbh will prove it,” Mishra asserted.

Meanwhile, organisers are claiming to make an expansive arrangement at the 12 acre site which the state government has provided to host the Yoga Kumbh. To be shaped as a distinctive complex, the zone will have a large size auditorium (with seating capacity of 5000), over 1000 weather-proof luxury tents, concierge center with international calling and wi-fi facilities, etc. All through their stay in this complex, the yoga enthusiasts will be catered typical yogic cuisine. Going by the version of the organisers, Yoga Kumbh seems to be poised to enhance the appeal of the grand Simhastha Mahakumbh. On a much larger basis, it could also be a testing ground of the assumption that India’s most potent soft power can also generate bulk tourists footfall to the country.

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