Spreading Joy Through Clowning

Posted by Vaishali Bhayani Shah on Jun 29, 2018

[Two of our volunteers, Diken (in Ahmedabad) and Tharanath (in Bengaluru) share their transformative experiences through clowning with children who are terminally ill and the precious lessons about life that they have learnt from these little ones.]

I am a child at heart”- Diken

Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings of divine love,
which linger and continue to uplift others, long after your sharing.”

~ Rumi

Each one of us brings our own unique gifts to offer to the world and uplift those around us. For me, it has been clowning, where I make children laugh, share my humour and craziness and spread happiness…it is something as simple as that!

Dressed up as a clown, I regularly visit the paediatric cancer ward at a hospital in Ahmedabad along with a bunch of volunteers and spread smiles amongst children who go through painful chemotherapy for treatment of cancer. I believe that the environment must be filled with love and laughter, not just medical accessories, as even a few moments of happiness goes a long way in improving their health. I found that engaging with children creatively, through art, theatre, chanting and dancing is a great way to reduce the monotony in their daily hospital routine and it helps bring cheerfulness.

In one of my visits as a clown, I met Narendra, a 10-year old boy who was diagnosed with cancer. I asked him if he ever gets scared of the disease and he said that he does not, as he knows he will be alright. He believed in the power of prayers from his family and had hope of recovering one day. When I asked him if he gets irritated because of the pain he has to go through, he responded saying “I know I have to go through the pain to get better.” I found that inspiring and he gave me courage to hold on to my pain and suffering and go through it with a smile.

During these hospital visits, I got to understand the value of the institution called family. A lady named ‘Rudi Maa’ had a grandson with cancer. Witnessing the love, devotion and strength of this lady was a remarkable experience and I feel many of us are blessed to have a loving family around us in times of difficulty.

After meeting many such inspiring souls through clowning, today I feel that I should choose life. I choose to experience freedom. I choose to feel my life in others. I choose not to deny my sensitivity and humanity, but to embrace it.
I have learnt that kids are my best teachers, because they are free from all inhibitions and conditioning. I believe that they are the answers to questions like, how can I be truthful, playful, non-judgmental ?, etc. When I am with children, I never lose my enthusiasm, never miss any opportunity to laugh and cheer up, regardless of the pain I am going through. Personally, indulging in children has been a great way to learn unconditional love for me.

Every child is divine and I am deeply grateful to these little angels who have the power to reveal my true essence. They give me what I seek …a reflection of who am I on the inside. I cannot hide my true self when I am with them. I am still a child at heart, with a soul that I am discovering.

I get goosebumps every time I witness little clowning acts leading to moments of Joy and laughter ”
- Tharanath

Clowning happened to me accidentally when I joined a bunch of clowns visiting a hospital in Bengaluru and stayed a mute spectator to what I thought was a one-time event. I had no idea that clowning was going to become a major part of my life thereafter.

I recall the very first time (which was very special to me), when few autistic kids came and shook hands with me. When I saw the big smile on the face of these children who don’t even make eye contact otherwise, I understood how special was this joy of spreading smiles and got hooked on to it.
In one of the visits to a hospital, fully dressed up as a clown, with a red nose on, I met a 13-year old girl suffering from an allergic skin disease. Her entire body was covered with blisters and she could hardly move…..even her face and eyelids were full of blisters. As I went near her, we could only hear some noise coming from her and sought her mother’s permission to talk to her. She indicated that the girl was shy in our presence. I held the girl’s hand and tried to talk and there was no sound. I could see only the eyeballs rolling behind the closed eyelids. All the volunteers stood around her bed and we sang the song Hum honge kaamyaab“. Soon we heard her move her lips and we could hear her singing along with us in a feeble voice. The whole atmosphere was electrifying. The mother was tearing up in a corner. A nurse told me that they had seen the girl happy for the first time in a month.

When we visited her the following week, we could not even recognize her. Her face was clear of blisters and she was smiling and welcoming. I get goose-bumps every time I recount moments like these, where small efforts lead to greater results of Joy and Laughter, which give me great satisfaction.

I visit hospitals where low-income group kids get admitted. Along with a group of volunteers, we spread positivity and joy through clowning. I realized over time that many patients in the hospital are very much in need of some cheer in their life, and the simple act of laughter reduces stress and helps in the recovery process. The act of smiling has a positive effect on our happiness and physical health and helps the heart recover more quickly post stressful events. A genuine ear-to-ear (wide) smile could start to restore a weak immune system and heal illnesses ranging from common cold to cancer.

I am happy to share that 70% of my Group Humanitario Clowns are young college students, the rest being corporate professionals. Snehadhara, ISupport Foundation, Karunashraya, Vidyaranya Hosa Belaku, Ananda Sagara Trust and Sumanahalli Leprosy Centre are some non-profit organisations we have collaborated with.

All my inspiration comes from the Kindness experiments that I learnt about from the Service Space ecosystem. I would like to express my deep love and gratitude to all for supporting me visibly and invisibly.

Posted by Vaishali Bhayani Shah on Jun 29, 2018 | permalink

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Previous Comments
  • Shaalini wrote ...

    The beautiful smiles say it all! Thank you for sharing these stories, Vaishali!

  • Misha wrote ...

    "The simple act of laughter reduces stress and helps in the recovery process"
    Wow, what a wonderful way to make a difference... very inspiring!

  • Jayesh Dharod wrote ...

    Great work guys. keep it up. may god bless u all

  • Aabha Gupta wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing these stories Vaishali :)