Mumbai’s High Court Silences Laughing Yoga

On June 18th, Mumbai’s high court informed police that something had to be done to stop the laughter around Sheetal Talao pond.  For the past three years the Sheetal Jogging Association has been coming to the pond to engage in laughter yoga, devotional singing, and light exercise.  Vinayak Shirsat and his family are claiming that the groups’ activities are causing “mental agony, pain, and public nuisance.”

The Sheetal Talao pond is not necessarily the nicest pond, but those in the Sheetal Jogging Assocation claim that it is the only open space in the area where they can conduct their routine.  Specifically, there is one section surrounding the pond where there is shade that the group utilizes for meditation and laughter yoga.  Unfortunately, for Shirsat, the shaded area is right in front of his apartment.  Roughly a dozen club members would perform devotional songs, clap for seven minutes, and laugh out loud for two minutes.  All of this would take place around seven o’clock in the morning, outside of Shirsat’s window.

Kamal Ahmad Khan, a doctor, has stated that “laughing brings peace and good health.”  In addition, physician Madam Kataria claims that even fake laughter confers physiological and psychological benefits.  Kataria’s website estimates that there are currently “more than 6,000 laughter clubs in 60 countries.”  The participants have seen the benefits of this type of exercise, and some of those who live around the pond have actually been persuaded to partake in the activity as well.

Police have advised the group that they must quiet down, and the group has been responsive to that request.  Since the complaint the Sheetal Jogging Association has made a concerted effort to try to whisper as they laugh, and keep “a pillow of air in their palms” while they clap.  It seems as though the group has been scared into silence claiming that Shirsat comes from a family of lawyers. Only time will tell what will happen with this case. The case is set for a hearing this Thursday, June 28th.

Do you think Shirsat was wrong to seek court assistance to silence the Sheetal Jogging Association?

SOURCE: The New York Times

2 comments

  1. It would be interesting to see what type of nuisance laws (if any) India has that would be applicable to this type of action. I find it hard to believe it has caused “mental anguish” to Mr. Shirsat and his family and that claim may come as a result of members of his family being attorneys. This just seems like another example of over litigation that could have been handled by the parties or the police.

  2. I think it is very sad that Shirsat has attempted to shut down the laughing club in Mumbai. I’ve never heard of laughter yoga, but after learning more baout it on laughter yoga’s webpage (www.laughteryoga.org), I think it is such a great idea. People in India explain that their lives are stressful and depressing, and the laughter yoga gives them the ability to “feel better and feel young,” “which is the best thing you can get for free.” Since children can laugh about 400 times a day, compared to adults who laugh less than 15 times a day, laughter yoga offers people a free form of therapy, which can help people forget about the hardships of their daily lives. After reading all of this, I find it really sad that Shirsat wants to take this away from the people of Mumbai. Perhaps instead he should just join in the laughter.

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