The 29th annual International Yoga Festival, held at Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, saw people from 94 countries coming together and taking part in various activities, including chanting and meditation, on the banks of river Ganga.

The programme, jointly organized by Ayush and Parmarth Niketan Ashram, saw Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati sharing with yogis the meaning of liberation and how it can be attained.

“Liberation is not just that which happens after we die. It is not the body which binds and chains us. It’s the way we identify with the body and mind. Let the Mother Goddess Ganga flow through you, freeing you and bringing you liberation while IN the body,” said Saraswati.

The event kicked off with a special two-hour meditation led by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Pujya M.M. Swami Asanganand Saraswati, Sadhvi Abha Saraswati, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati and Gurmukh Kaur, followed by breakfast in the gardens.

There were spiritual discourses and sessions with a number of world-renowned personalities such as Dr. Bruce Lipton, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa of USA, Yogrishi Vishvketu of Rishikesh, Hikaru Hashimoto of Japan, and Yoshi Aono of USA among others.

The evening ended with participants enjoying ecstatic kirtans with Kirtaniyas, a musical group well-known for their fusion of traditional Indian style vocal music with multi-instruments.

The highlight of International Yoga Festival was bhakti yoga, or devotional singing and chanting of kirtans.

Adam Bauer, a participant, said it was a scintillating experience to sing kirtans on the banks of Ganga and “listen to her as we all float downstream.”

“It’s a special treat to gather here in the land of the rishis, with people from all over the globe, to chant mantra and commune with other practitioners on the path of yoga. So many lovely people, great teachers, inspiring environment and clean energy–and to sing kirtan on the banks of Ma Ganga and listen to Her as we all float downstream: what a blessing!” said Bauer.