In 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria founded the first Laughter Club in Bombay, and laughter clubs soon spread throughout India. For a 2006 BBC segment, Monty Python alum (and transcontinental taxi rider) John Cleese met with Dr. Kataria and visited several clubs, including one for imprisoned murderers, rapists and robbers. Here’s the video:
Dr. Kataria’s Laughter Yoga International website claims that laughing has “healing/therapeutic benefits” for the following conditions:
- mental stress
A club in Mumbai (Bombay) meets every morning at 7 am and has come to be something of a tourist attraction. From foreign visitors, the club has learned an assortment of international laughs:
For Australia, they “coo coo coo” like a kookaburra; they hold their hands behind their backs for the Spanish laugh; for the Danes, they chuckle while covering their mouths. America? A slap of the thigh on an upraised leg.
Telegraph journalist Charlotte Cory described her experience with the Bombay club in 2003:
I usually shrink from any compulsory group activity, but I was soon giggling and chuckling for all I was worth. Roaring and clawing the air like a lion, tittering politely behind my knuckles, guffawing into an imaginary mobile phone, laughing silently with my mouth wide open or chortling noisily with it shut. When asked to add an English laugh to the club’s repertoire, I stuck my nose in the air and hawked merrily like a constipated memsahib – much to their amusement and my own astonishment.
(According to Merriam-Webster, memsahib came into the language as a combination of English ma’am and Hindi & Urdu sahib, and denoted a white foreign woman of high social status living in India, especially the wife of a British official.)
[Image: CSM Global News Blog]