Chaitanya Hasya Yog Mandal executive director Makrand Tiloo acknowledged the need to reach out to the youth. The mandal has 100 branches in the city, around 30 outside the city and has touched over 10,000 members. The Lokmanaya Hasya Mandal adds another 5,000 people to the tally of laughter club members. "However, the presence of youth among them is negligible," Tiloo said.
City laughter clubs hope to rectify this imbalance. "Our agenda now is to go to the young people. They are the most stressed out lot and do not know where the problem lies. Eighty percent of the problem is psychosomatic. The young think that they have no time to be happy. But all tension, stress, depression will disappear once they understand laughter," Tiloo said.
Col S B Salunke of the 435-member strong Shivaji Housing Society Hasya Club, which is part of the Chaitanya Hasya Yog Mandal, said that the members held a four-part training session for boys of the Lala Lajpat Rai hostel last year. "The response was encouraging. We will conduct similar sessions for school and college students over the Christmas vacations," said Salunke.
Recently, the members of the Chaitanya Hasya Yog Mandal conducted a session for the city's traffic policemen who appreciated it so much that it was extended by a week. Tiloo said for the past two months, the mandal has been conducting training for laughter sessions at YASHADA on Baner Road. "Besides targeting schoolchildren, we have been going to the corporate world for the last year and a half," he said.
"One reason why the laughter clubs have not reached the youth is perhaps because they are not seeing the benefits immediately," said Madan Katarai, who kick-started this idea of "laugh for no reason" with five people in a park in Mumbai in 1995.
"Old people are more lonely at home, the young will come when they find value in it," he said. He said for the last one year, his Laughter Club International has been positioning laughter yoga in corporates and universities across the world.
"But these days, the youth are moving away from their homes and feeling increasingly lonely as well. There is no need for them to come to clubs, if they practice for some time at home or create a laughter room in schools and offices, they should see the benefits," said Tiloo.