Paris: Tourists visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Friday were in a for a surprise view, not mentioned anywhere in the tourist guides on the sights visible from the most famous observatory in the world.
Over 300 metres below in the Seine river, bathed in the light of a bright sun shining in its full glory, a boat moved gently, carrying a number of people practicing various yoga asanas.
"This is perhaps the first time ever that Yoga has been practised on the Parisian river, following more or less the same route as the one taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his French host, President Hollande in April. After `Nav Pe Charcha`, we have `Nav Pe Yoga`," said Deepali Patel, president of Art of Living France.
She is one of the participants of the Yoga rehearsal, in preparation of the First International Yoga Day, which is to be celebrated on June 21.
`Nav Pe Yoga` has been organised by the Indian embassy in France in collaboration with the French wing of the Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravishankar. The boat belongs to the famous Bateaux Mouches Compagnie, which ferries thousands of tourists every day, round the year, for a cruise on the Seine river.
As with other Indian missions, the embassy in Paris is also making hectic efforts to ensure that the International Yoga Day is marked all over France and with the maximum number of participants.
"We will hold Yoga demonstrations on June 21 in over 20 main French cities in nearly 30 different locations," Dr Mohan Kumar, the newly-appointed Indian Ambassador to France, told Media India Group in an interview.
Dr Kumar went on to say that he had come back to France after five years, where he served earlier as the deputy chief of mission, and was pleasantly surprised to see the rapid growth in the popularity of Yoga and the level of awareness amongst the French people about Yoga and its benefits.
Serge Michaunaud has big expectations from the First International Yoga Day. The executive director of the Art of Living Foundation, France, he believes that celebrating the International Yoga Day will bring a much larger and broader understanding of Yoga in the French society.
"We expect that the French people should have a bigger and broader image of Yoga. They should understand that it is not just an exercise and a way of living which is very beneficial to an individual in ensuring good health and removing stress."
"They will see that by bringing thousands of people from diverse social, ethnic and economic backgrounds under one roof, at the same moment and nearly breathing in unison, they will see how Yoga can build bonds across the society and help bridge the gaps and differences that exist in our society today," Michaunaud told Media India Group.
Deepali Patel added that June 21 will mark a unique moment for the world when hundreds of thousands of people all over the world would share a moment of harmony and peace.
Ambassador Kumar said the embassy has organised and initiated Yoga demonstrations at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, at the Parc de la Villette in north-eastern Paris as well as on the Bateaux Mouches.
Besides this, events are being organised in all major cities of France, including Strasbourg, Lyon, Toulouse and even the remote French island territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean, and in the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
Just Paris alone is expected to see a gathering of 10,000 Yoga lovers, according to the organisers of various events.