London: The High Court in Mumbai has ordered members of a ‘laughter yoga’ club to restrain their joy after neighbours complain of “mental agony, pain and public nuisance.”
The judges have told local police officers to find a way for the local residents of a Mumbai suburb to have the last laugh in a long running legal battle over whether the sound of laughter amounts to “aural aggression”.
The case was brought by 78-year-old lawyer Vinayak Shirsat and his family after an informal yoga club started meeting in a lakeside gazebo by their bungalow, the Telegraph reported.
They complained that between 10 and 30 devotees gathered outside their house every morning at 6am and started singing devotional songs, clapping and exhorting one another to laugh out louder.
Their lawyer, Veena Thadani, says it is no laughing matter.
“It’s true that laughter is contagious, but if 30 people laugh every day in your window and you wake up to the sound of this cacophony you do not start laughing. They encourage each other to laugh louder – ‘laugh through your belly! Laugh through your eyes! Laugh through your ears!’ they shout,” she said.
Despite a number of rulings, the police have not yet taken action against the laughing yogis because they are not a formal registered club.
Mumbai’s High Court judges have now voiced their frustration that their order has not been enforced.
“Solve this problem. This is (an) unnecessary headache … people coming and laughing outside your house,” said Justice Bobde.
Laughing yoga has grown in popularity throughout the world after it was developed by Mumbai doctor Madan Kartaria, who styles himself the ‘Guru of giggling.’
He began his ‘movement’ with just five followers in the early 1990s and has since inspired 6000 ‘laughter clubs’ in 60 countries around the world.
These clubs have proliferated throughout India’s public parks where groups of devotees throw back their arms and heads in unison and laugh in exaggerated breathing exercises.
Despite its 17 years history, crowds still gather to enjoy the spectacle and in many cases laugh along with them.
But according to Thadani no one is laughing in the upmarket Mumbai suburb of Kurli, where residents are fighting for the right to be glum in peace.
“It’s aural aggression. You can’t be forced to hear sounds you don’t want to hear. Everyone is miserable because these activities are outside their home every day. What if you want to get up late or you’re not feeling well? They’re still waking you up with this cackling,” she said.