International Day of Peace 2021 commemorated by Yoga in Daily Life
Each year, the United Nations International Day of Peace is celebrated worldwide on 21 September by members and practitioners of Yoga in Daily Life, who commemorate this special day in yoga centres and ashrams, and at gatherings by the World Peace Trees planted by Vishwaguruji over many years.
Here is a report of some of the celebrations with Yoga in Daily Life members around the world.
United Nations, New York, USA
On 21 September, a wide range of members from the UN NGO and Multifaith community gathered in person at the Tillman Chapel – the Church Center for the United Nations, for the first time after two years, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the International Day of Peace and share peace messages and prayers.
The Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council (SSMWPC) was represented in the program with a video message of Vishwaguruji recorded for the occasion and SSMWPC UN representative and Yoga in Daily Life teacher, Kripadevi, guided a brief session of Sarva Hitta Asana practice to refresh and re-centre participants in the midst of a three-hour-long program.
The underlying message of many speakers was remembrance and paying respect and gratitude to sadhus, sages and spiritual teachers, whose lives are an example of peace and who have conveyed to us the wisdom of the scriptures.
This message was embedded in Vishwaguruji’s message, remembering his guru Sri Swami Madhavananda Ji, in the video address of Ramu Damodaran who remembered Sadie Wilson Tillman, a prominent church and women's rights leader credited for the founding of the Church Center for the UN, and in the remarks of the host Rev. Dione Boissiere and Denise Scotto, chair of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN.
The feeling of peace and unity was palpable among all present in person and in spirit.
On Tuesday 21 September, the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council in collaboration with the Yoga in Daily Life Associations of USA, Canada, Austria and New Zealand, celebrated the United Nations International Day of Peace with an online event.
At this live video conference event, over 100 participants from around the world listened attentively as Vishwaguruji began the program by reiterating that peace begins in one’s heart.
“We are now in Kali Yuga, the ‘dark period,’ where aggression, greed, war, cruelty, and disease prevail. Let us develop again love towards all creatures. Then we will have world peace. The atma, the soul, is the same in every living being. God is only One and His light is living within and sustaining all beings. We should not think only of humans – a mighty elephant as well as a tiny ant bear within them the same Living Light and therefore their existence is of equal value of that of humans.”
Vishwaguruji’s keynote speech was followed by the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council ambassador from India, Mr Kapil Agarwalji, who spoke about yoga, peace, and the role of youth.
After a short musical break with spiritual music recorded by Swami Madhuram from New Zealand, a period of practice was led by Yoga in Daily Life teachers, all long term devotees of Vishwaguruji. Participants practised Sarva Hitta Asanas led by Hemlata from Alexandria, USA, followed by pranayama, led by Nirwanpuri, president of Yoga in Daily Life Canada, and concluding with a meditation on peace, guided by Swami Umapuri from Austria.
The event ended with final remarks by Amrit Sagar, YIDL teacher and devotee who lives in San Francisco, and ended with a mantra offering prayers of peace for the environment and prayers for the well-being of all creatures.
Program with Vishwaguruji, Szeged, Hungary
On the International Day of Peace, Vishawaguruji was on tour in Hungary and gave an evening lecture in the city of Szeged. Vishwaguruji emphasized that during difficult circumstances such as we have faced in recent times, we should remember that we are humans, and therefore gifted with feelings of compassion, love and understanding.
"…we humans should protect each other and all creatures on Earth, because we are all children of God."
Inner peace for world peace 2021
Vishwaguruji: "My message is always the same, find peace in yourself to convey that peace to the world."
Yoga is a spiritual discipline through which millions of people around the world find inner peace, patience and tolerance for themselves and their surroundings. Peace is one of the basic qualities that are developed by practising yoga, and when that quality awakens within us, it is expanding to our surroundings too.
In that spirit, Yoga in Daily Life commemorates again the International Day of Peace, as we have done for the last 20 years. In 2001 we organized first-ever public Prayer for Peace in Umag, where hundreds of participants lit candles and let them float into the sea with a peace prayer, as symbols of peace overcoming violence. From Croatia, international peace prayer events then spread all over the world, with many ceremonial gatherings organized by Yoga in Daily Life.
This year, World Peace Day was marked in nine cities in Croatia, with special programs, prayers for peace and lighting of candles beside Peace Trees. We may not be able to leave the perfect world to future generations, but we can leave them the will and enthusiasm to make themselves and the world a better place.
On the occasion of UN Peace Day, the mantra of peace was sung during yoga classes in three places around Warsaw and participants also meditated and lit candles with the intention of peace.
Twenty people participated in the entire event. Everyone returned home with peace of mind and faith that it is possible to abandon the struggle within and return to the silence that is the essence of our true nature.
All local devotees and students were invited to gather together at the Peace Tree in Vancouver on the auspicious Day of Peace, but due to heavy rain, some were not able to attend. However, the ten participants who managed to meet were lucky when, exactly the time of celebration, the rain stopped and the soft sunlight and gentle wind accompanied the group at the Peace Tree, planted eleven years ago in Garden City Community Park.
The group celebrated by chanting the Peace Mantra and reciting prayers, whilst holding candles lit with the Light of Peace. Red ribbons were tied to the tree as a symbol of the connection to Peace in our hearts. We distributed prashad (blessed food offerings) brought back from the Strilky summer retreat and shared a loaf of delicious homemade round, chewy Eastern European bread, as a gesture of peace in our friendship.
Yoga in Daily Life members in China celebrated the International Day of Peace at several locations, in conjunction with the Chinese Full Moon Festival Day – it was a double celebration of peace!
Students in Haikou celebrated with peaceful, relaxing yoga, finishing the practice with holding hands in a circle of friendship in peace. They then shared a meal and discussed peace among themselves.
Beijing was represented by Ni Wei who with a candle, celebrated the Light of Peace and expressed in Chinese script, "World Peace means gentleness to oneself and others".
In Wuhan, five students celebrated World Peace with a meditation on "peace and kindness to oneself and others".
Chongquing student, Ting Ting, celebrated this Peace Day with her mother, who prayed to the Heavenly Full Moon for peace, symbolized by an offering of round moon cakes on this auspicious occasion.
Prague, Czech Republic
On the evening of 21 September, the Yoga in Daily Life Prague association organised a world peace prayer to celebrate International Day of Peace. The participants chanted prayers and Vedic mantras around the Peace Tree planted by Vishwaguru Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda at Prague’s Vyšehrad, a unique historic site in the Czech capital.
Yoga in Daily Life Australia celebrated the International Day of Peace with meditation and peace prayer at the national centre in Brisbane with participants joining in from around the country online via Zoom. The program was led by Mahamandaleshwar Swami Jasraj Puri Ji and the theme of the meditation was “Peace begins in one’s own heart”.
It was a wonderful atmosphere in the hall, gently illuminated by candlelight from candles lit by participants and with the guided meditation accompanied by the soft music of classical guitar played live by Swami Dayal Puri Ji. The meditation concluded with the chanting of Peace Mantras for all beings and for everyone in need around the world.
Altogether 25 people gathered in the ashram hall and 24 joined online from all over Australia.
On the afternoon of 21 September, students and teachers of Yoga in Daily Life in London met together in the spirit of friendship and peace by the World Peace Tree in Queens Park, planted by Vishwaguruji and local dignitaries in 2010, to meditate and chant the Peace Mantra and offer prayers for peace around the world and for the wellbeing of all.
To commemorate the occasion in Scotland, online yoga classes from Edinburgh had the theme of "being present with peace", with participants joining from around Scotland and other parts of the UK. The intention was set to maintain a peaceful frame of mind whilst practising asanas, by being conscious of treating the body with care in the different postures and exercises and focusing on calm peaceful breathing – and to let this be as inspiration for how to live one's daily life. The sessions also included meditation on peace within and chanting the Peace Mantra, and concluded with participants inwardly sending prayers and dedications of peace to loved ones, people and animals who are suffering, and all souls around the world. After the evening class on 21 September, the teacher in Edinburgh also visited the local World Peace Tree and prayed for peace, good health and happiness for all.
South Africa, Cape Town
Yoga in Daily Life members in Cape Town marked the special occasion by lighting candles and dedicating prayers for peace to all in South Africa and around the world.
Karma yogi residents and visitors at the Om Ashram in Jadan, came together on the International Day of Peace to chant traditional mantras and share in praying for peace for India and the whole world.