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Hundreds of Palestinian youth turned out at a massive yoga fest held here to mark the fifth International Yoga Day celebrations.

The event was organised by Representative Office of India in Palestine in association with Governorate of Jericho, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and Beit Al Shams Center for Self Development Saturday evening.

Addressing the gathering, Representative of India (ROI) in Palestine Sunil Kumar said yoga has become a unifying force in the world.”Through yoga we are connecting both countries’ (India and Palestine) thousands years history and heritage by organising the event at the city of moon – Jericho, which is the oldest continuously inhabited city,” he said.

Kumar described the International Day of Yoga as “one of the biggest mass movements” in the quest for good health and well-being. He also read out Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to President Mahmoud Abbas on the occasion.

Governor of Jericho Jehad Abu al-Asal, representing the Palestinian government at the event, said: “yoga brings peace which is most required in this region”. “It is very important not only for better health but also brings in calmness and provides a stress-free life,” he said.

The Indian mission this year launched a massive yoga awareness drive through a fest organised at ten iconic sites in Palestine, including the Dead Sea, Sebastia (Roman amphitheater ruins), Rawabi hilltop, Mahmoud Darwish Museum, Dar el Jahran (oldest preserved Palestinian house), Kokab garden and Gandhi Square in Ramallah. Each of these flash yoga demonstrations attracted enthusiastic response from academic institutions, yoga practitioners, students, youth, representatives of the civil society, Palestinian officials and local press.

On Saturday evening, the historic Umayyad Palace of Hisham in the Jericho city, which has been continuously inhabited for at least 10,000 years, witnessed a huge draw of yoga enthusiasts from almost every township in the West Bank with participants coming from Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, and Ramallah.

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