Three months after becoming the first prison in Madhya Pradesh to start an in-house radio station, the Satna central jail has initiated another first, this time holding morning laughter sessions to de-stress inmates.
Titled “Thahaka Suprabhat” or laughter morning, the 10-minute early morning dose of laughter, which started from May 13, is seeing more than 1,300 inmates, including more than 800 convicts and more than 400 under trials and jail staff into boundless laughter.
Every morning at 5.30, the 22 jail barracks in the five wards are unlocked and after the morning headcount and prisoners are lined up in their respective wards for the jail anthem “Aye maalik tere bande hum”.
After the singing the anthem, inmates plunge into a bout of laughter, not under the leadership of jail superintendent Shephali Rajesh or any other jail official, but by led by 35-year-old murder convict Puran Singh, who is serving a life sentence.
“Puran Singh underwent a laughter therapy training at two Art of Living Foundation workshops in the jail and is now using the training to guide others inmates to distress themselves,” said Shephali Rajesh, jail superintendent.
While Singh conducts the laughter session with a mike in hand on a stage in Ward No 6– the biggest ward in the jail–six other inmates–all murder convicts–trained by him, coordinate the session in four other wards.
“The laughter specialists”– as these trainers are known– train inmates in different genres of laughter, including “tractor hansi, jalebi hansi, rabri hansi, kandha uckhayi hansi”. The laughter specialists do not spare the jail officials while ridiculing others to raise laughter levels through “khunkhar jailer hansi or cruel jailer laughter and sharmili jailer hansi or shy jailer laughter.
“The 10-minute dose of de-stressing most stressed segment of society has no space for the word ridicule. The laughter trainers are free to target anyone to make even the saddest inmates and jail officials to laugh,” said jail superintendent Rajesh.
In January this year, the Satna central jail became the first prison in the state to start an in-house radio station where entertainment and information programmes were “aired” using the public address system.