Hari Shanker R

Hari Shanker R

A Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

Free Hugs!!

HUG

Embrace: squeeze (someone) tightly in your arms, usually with fondness; “Hug me, please”; “They embraced”; “He hugged her close to him”

Of all forms human contact and/or expressions of love, the Hug is my favourite. Whenever I see a hugging sequence in a movie/TV Show, I pay special attention to it, picturing myself as the protagonist (especially if the guy was hugging/getting hugged by a girl! 😛 ) Personally speaking, I haven’t been hugged much; and even those few random hugs (mostly from parents and relatives) I’ve got were strictly perfunctory. For me, an ideal hug should be warm – I love the warmth of another human body as it remains pressed onto mine, the calm reassuring sensation, the faux-realization of protection and of course, a strong wave of happiness! Sadly, with rocket-fast lifestyles and pressures of the 21st century, people have no time to talk, let alone hug! 😐 I’ve had countless junctures in my life where I badly craved for a warm, reassuring hug! 🙁

As I know, there are a lot of people who share my feelings – and interestingly, there is something reassuring for all of us! 🙂 No, I’m not talking about Munnabhai’s Jaadu Ki Jhappi – it was a great idea by Rajkumar Hirani, but plagiarized from the original Free Hugs campaign by Juan Mann.

Juan Mann (The guy with specs) hugging someone during his campaign! (Courtesy: Free Hugs Official Website)


A collage of Free Hugs photos!

CC Credits: flipsockgrrl

So what is the Free Hugs campaign?

Nothing much! It’s just you (or a group of people – yourself included) down on the street clutching a placard with ‘Free Hugs’ written on it. You walk about, telling everyone through the placard that you’re offering a free hug to everyone who’s in need. Then, people come and hug you!

What’s the point, you ask?

Well, everyone needs a hug, but seldom do you get it when you need! I know my example (which I’ve mentioned above). I’ve almost cried at times, badly wishing for a warm hug and having missed it! And the daily pressures of life… they kill you. A hug is rejuvenating! Besides in these days of minimal physical contact and distance between humans, a hug  kills all the tension! In ‘Free Hugs’, a hug is not part of a sexual activity or anything – it’s just an intimate sign of human love. A ‘free hugger’ hugs all strangers who are willing to hug him/her. He/she gets a lot from it, a huge bout of rejuvenating happiness that engulfs all the ‘huggers’!

There’s quite an endearing story behind this wonderful campaign – Juan explains it thus:

I’d been living in London when my world turned upside down and I’d had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words “Free Hugs” on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

The campaign, today is so famous that it has transcended the borders of nations and has become a truly worldwide sensation. Juan has made the campaign a foundation, and organizes collective Free Hug campaigns worldwide. It wasn’t easy at first – Juan’s campaign got banned at many areas due to plain red tape! Juan campaigned against it all, and his movement is in full swing!

Even India has had it’s Free Hugs movements… Everyone who’s seen the ARR Track Jiya se Jiya would know better – the video (and the fantastic song) speaks a thousand words!

I believe that this movement will actually go a long way in making the world a better place! 🙂

Check out this moving Free Hugs video:

Free Hugs to all my readers!! >:D< Now, don’t forget to hug me first, the next time you see me in person! 🙂 Love ye all!

13 Comments

  1. neethu

    hmm…interesting post;)…but the idea seems to be nice…if the intention is clean;)

    so how many have u got so far?;)

  2. Sriram

    Well I remember I had written a post abt this years back.. and I'm also one of the supporters of the thing..

    What the point eh? The whole point IS the hug and the happy feeling that the world's a good place after all!

  3. /urgu

    First off – *hug*. You're right about the whole hug business. You can't emphasize too much how infinitely effective a simple hug is more than words. People down south don't hug (or effin touch, for that matter) much. Wish it changes. Frickin' awesome idea, that. m/

  4. hari

    @ Neethu:

    You're right about the intentions! 🙂 Dunno about others, but I have a clean intention.

    Didn't get any yet! 🙁

  5. hari

    @ Sriram:

    Yeah. 🙂 The feeling is great – so great that it'll kill all your blues and make you a different person. At least for the rest of the day! 😀

  6. hari

    @ urgu:

    *hug* bro!! >:D<

    You're right about the lack of hugs down here in the south. But you're out there in Kurukshethra right? Got any hugs yet? nice ones? 😀

  7. hari

    @ Akhil Sasidharan:

    I wanted to mention that in my post, but her supporters might sue me! 😛

    The 'hugging saint' is famous just because of her hugs, period. She sells hugs for a living, people pay millions of rupees for it!

    In free hugs, the hug is FREE! 🙂

  8. Prasanth

    Never knew that people need to pay money to hug/see Mata Amritanandamayi 😛

    People pay millions out of gratitude, I must assume.

  9. Rupal

    Strange!"a warm hug to kill the pain and to spread luv",amazing!

    i just closed my eyes and imagined how it works:-)

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