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In the post "Bringing Love And Laughter To Old Folks In A Home In Shanghai, China", uploaded on 2 November 2014, I briefly mentioned the challenges faced in making the Chinese people laugh.
There is more.
Besides the cultural and psychological barriers, we also had to worry about incurring the wrath of the authorities.
Unlike in India, laughter yoga clubs did not quickly take root in the public parks and open spaces across China. When I was mulling over the idea of starting a laughter yoga club in the parks, concerned friends and colleagues stopped me with grim reminders of the fate of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
For the uninitiated, Falun Gong is a form of exercise and meditation with movements similar to those seen in t'ai chi and qigong. The exercise is associated with Falun Dafa, a modern spiritual movement originating in China in the 1990s. Falun Gong has tens of millions of adherents, according to the Falun Dafa organisation. The Chinese government branded the movement an "evil cult" in 1999 and banned the practice. Falun Gong followers have faced persecution since. [Source: Wikipedia.com]
Just to be safe, we have only offered laughter yoga as paid or experiential sessions. No boisterous laughter in the parks for now.
The Chinese, who have worked hard to make our lives so much easier with all the products they manufacture round the clock to satiate our hunger, owe it to themselves to relax and laugh a bit more, said Dr. Kataria. Tens of thousands of laughter yoga clubs have magically sprung up in more than seventy countries since Dr. Kataria started the first club in Mumbai in 1995, but there is none in China to date.
While we have not changed the world as expected, we have in the last three years introduced laughter into Chinese society. Laughter is now slowly but surely trickling down the rank and file in institutions and enterprises, and rippling out to families, colleagues, associates and clients throughout the country. Our growing list of clients, associates and friends includes:
AWB China -- A Wellbeing Company
Bank of Communications
Cargill, Inc.
YUM! Brands Inc.
Always Marketing
GM Financial Service
Yew Chung International School
Shanghai Singapore International School
Yishun Junior College (visitors from Singapore)
MOTEL 268 China
Hitachi Elevators
Our flash mob video clip never fails to light up the room, and the faces of viewers, unaccustomed to such displays on Huai Hai Road, the busiest stretch of road in downtown Shanghai.
We were not hauled away for questioning while filming it. So, perhaps there is hope, and the promise of brighter days and more laughter ahead!
Ha ha ha! Ho ho ho! He he he!