World Laughter Day was created in 1998 by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement. The celebration of World Laughter Day is a positive manifestation for world peace and is intended to build up a global consciousness of brotherhood and friendship through laughter. Its popularity has grown exponentially with that of the Laughter Yoga movement now counting over 6000 Laughter Clubs in more than 100 countries.
The first World Laughter Day gathering took place in Mumbai, India, in 1998. Twelve thousand members from local and international laughter clubs joined together in a mega laughter session.
“HAPPY-DEMIC” was the first World Laughter Day gathering outside India. It took place in the year 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark where more than 10,000 people gathered at Town Hall Square. It was the largest ever gathering that laughed and bonded together and the event went into the Guinness Book of World records.
Why World Laughter Day
One of Dr. Kataria’s objectives for Laughter Yoga is to promote world peace through laughter. Some people find this idea fanciful, but an understanding of the science of emotions and emotional contagion in particular shows how this might be achieved. The practice of Laughter Yoga causes the body to release certain ‘Feel Good’ hormones into the bloodstream related to feelings of happiness, warmth, unconditional love, bonding, tolerance, forgiveness, generosity, and compassion. Let’s call this a joy cocktail. The presence of this ‘Joy Cocktail’ of hormones and neuro-peptides precludes the production of other hormones and neuro-peptides that correspond with hatred, fear, violence, jealousy, aggression and the emotions associated with war and oppression.
By practicing Laughter Yoga in groups, the level of this Joy cocktail is raised to high concentrations through the multiplier effect: people leaving Laughter Yoga sessions go forth and interact with many people who are in turn affected to varying degrees by this powerful emotional state of joy. They in turn ‘infect’ other people they come into contact with. You can experience this ‘chain reaction’ after your very first Laughter Yoga session. Not only will you cheer up your friends and family but you may also cheer up the bus driver and others on your bus, the people you work with, the staff at the shop and more. They in turn will cheer up others, and so on. By having tens of thousands of laughter clubs all over the world, it will create a positive energy which will change the consciousness of the globe for the better. Actually, the formula for world peace is very simple – one person at a time multiplies it and spread it…
“When you laugh, you change and when you change the whole world changes around you.” Dr. Madan Kataria
Nowadays, people face enormous stress and are at war with themselves. Laughter is a positive and powerful emotion which helps people to change themselves and to change the world in a peaceful and positive way. Laughter is a universal language which has the potential to unite humanity without religion. It establishes a common link between various religions and creates a new world order.
The usual format of WLD celebration is the congregation of laughter club members, their families and friends at some important landmark in their city like big squares, public parks or auditoriums and laugh collectively. They pray for world peace and read out the message from Dr. Kataria.
In India, laughter club members gather in public parks and take out a procession or a Peace march.They carry banners and placards such as –
“World Peace Through Laughter”,
“The Whole World Is An Extended Family”,
“Laugh & Make Others Laugh”,
“Join Laughter Club – It’s FREE!” etc.
During the march all chant “Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, Ha” and “very good, very good, yeah!”clapping and dancing. After walking some distance, they stop to do a few Laughter Yoga exercises and then move on. At the end of the march, they assemble on a stage or platform where laughter leaders conduct a brief 10 min laughter session followed by reading of Dr. Kataria’s message for World Peace.
This is followed by a variety entertainment program of music, dance and laughter contests. One can organize contests with prizes like: Best laughing man / woman / child / senior, Horrible singing contest, etc. Winners are those with the most infectious, natural and effortless laughter for no reason.