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Portland Asks: Why Have One Day of Happiness When You Can Have Two?

Mayor Charlie Hales proclaims July 5 and 6 "Happiness Day."

The city of Portland is proclaiming July 5 and 6 "Happiness Day" in honor of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a spiritual guru from India who once made a lot of people really, really unhappy by suggesting Malala Yousafzai—the young Pakistani woman who took a bullet to the head at 15 for advocating for girls' education—didn't deserve her 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Shankar, known as Sri Sri to his yoga and meditation followers, will be in Portland next week at the Oregon Convention Center teaching people how to "reconnect with your unlimited power and freedom" for $95 per person.

So what does it take to have a day proclaimed in your honor in Portland? Not much apparently.

Already in 2016 the Portland City Council has declared:

  • Jan. 20 “Soccer City USA Day”
  • Feb. 4 “Venture Portland Day”
  • Feb. 10 “The Office of Multifamily Housing Day”
  • April 5 “National Services Recognition Day”
  • April 10-16 “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week”
  • April 13 “A Day to Honor Portland’s First Woman Fire Chief”
  • May 15 “Hefe Day”

Sara Hottman, a spokeswoman for Hales, says the mayor's office last year granted 115 requests for proclamations, but the mayor leaves it to his staff to pick who will be honored.

"If it's a Portland constituent who asks for it and it's nothing offensive, then we'll do it," says Hottman.

Sri Sri says he was misquoted when news networks reported in May that he said Yousafzai's Nobel Prize was undeserved. He'd been asked whether he was engaged in relief work in drought-ridden Latur, India, in order to nab his own prize.

"Not at all," he said at the time. "What will I do with a prize? We have been doing social work for years now and it has not been for prizes …When a 16-year-old girl, without any body of work, gets the prize, you get a sense that you don't need to do much to get the Peace Prize. There are more political factors at play."

Still want to get happy with the Guru of Joy?