External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had on June 9 had said that Modi "will grace the occasion and address the gathering but he will not perform yoga." But the Prime Minister, wearing a white attire and tricolour patka, today joined the participants in the demonstration (photos below).
The Prime Minister, who has been under attack from the opposition for "usurping" yoga to "highlight" himself, insisted that the programme is only intended to benefit the humankind and spread the message of love and well-being.
He also said that the support for yoga that has been built in the country will be taken forward in future as well.
Noting that new revolutions are happening in the field of technology in the world, Modi said that they will not serve any purpose if human development remains stagnant. "This mismatch will also become a crisis for humankind. That is why it is necessary that internal development of man should also take place simultaneously," Modi said adding that this can be done through yoga.
Hailing the contributions of yoga gurus and exponents of various traditions in the world, the Prime Minister noted that sometimes some deformities creep in every tradition due to ignorance. Maintaining that the 'asanas' are just a beginning of the larger picture of yoga, he compared it with the fine tuning of various music instruments at the beginning of a music show.
With the world observing the first International Yoga Day, the sun will not set on this form of art and the world has to take note of it, he said. 21 yoga 'asanas' were performed by 35,000 people for 35 minutes at the event.
Given the large participation, the Ministry of AYUSH which was coordinating the event, was aiming at registering the event in the Guinness World Records for the "largest yoga demonstration or class at a single venue and largest number of people of various nationalities performing yoga at one place".
Government had set up 2,000 huge digital 'cinema screens' across Rajpath for people to witness the live streaming of the performance of yoga asanas.
A large number of children of foreign diplomats also participated in the event today. Several people donning skull caps were also seen taking part in the event. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who also practises yoga, was also spotted participating.
There was controversy in the run up to the event with a section of minority groups opposing it. The government did not include 'Suryanamaskar' in the yoga protocol for the event after some Muslim groups claimed that it was against their religion.