‘Free Hugs’ on Friendship Day surprises people at Basantapur ground

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On a rainy afternoon on Sunday, people in Basantapur ground were surprised when a group of youths stood there with placards displaying messages of ‘free hugs’, and hugged the strangers.

At first, it felt like a freak show to everyone. It looked like pranksters hugging the passersby. But, it all ended becoming happy and fun moment both for the organizers and the watchers, and people getting hugs.

As many as 15 members from Working As Angels (WAA) and 7 members from Leo Club were there as main huggers.

The hugging culture on Friendship Day started back in 2015, when Shiwani Manandhar, president of WAA created the free hugs day and named the event ‘Happy Hugs’.

“I got this idea back then because I just had my heart broken, was feeling lonely and low, I didn’t have many friends or squad back then and I really needed a hug. I needed to be told that “It’s all going to be okay” and I needed to feel loved,” reminisced Shiwani, adding, “That’s when I thought maybe a lot of other people feel the same. Hence came the idea of Free Hugs.”

Shiwani (middle) and friends

“We were expecting a lot of close friends and Facebook friends to come, but the day was all gloomy and it started raining so I begin getting those ‘Sorry, I couldn’t make it’ texts but we hugged as many strangers as possible,” shared Shiwani.

“Though about 2-3 people out of every 10-people rejected us, and some even walked away as fast as they could, the rest of them revived it with a surprised smile and gave a tighter hug back,” expressed Shiwani with pleasure.

As many as 500 people, both male and females, and from all age groups: children, youths and adults received hugs. Youths and children seemed more into hugging.

“By organizing the event, I feel like we are living up to the name ‘Working As Angels’ and our motto ‘Promoting Health and Happiness’ and personally I feel grateful towards everyone who has been a part of it,” shared Shiwani.

This way, Happy Hugs made this year’s Friendship Day even more different and memorable.

Photos Courtesy: Shiwani Manandhar

By Basanta Kumar Dhakal

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