Several thousand guests have solemnized an elaborate Hindu wedding ceremony between two monkeys in India’s eastern Orissa state.
At the ceremony Jhumri, the two-year old monkey ‘bride’ sported a crimson red sari, a tiara of flowers and had her forehead smeared with sandalwood paste whilst Manu the ‘groom’ was his swashbuckling self, sporting only a chain and collar at a temple in Ghanteswara village, 125 miles from the state capital Bhubaneshwar.
In keeping with tradition, three-year old Manu accompanied by a band playing raucous music and hundreds of dancing guests was received formally by the bride’s family close to the marriage venue.
Her elaborately dressed ‘relatives’ intoned loud chants normal at a Hindu wedding and to the accompaniment of fireworks showered the brown-eyed groom with flowers as he approached the coy ‘bride’, lounging bewilderedly in her ‘mother’s’ lap to garland her.
Thereafter, a Brahmin priest completed the wedding rituals around a fire, considered sacred by Hindus.
“It was a unique experience for me. It was the first time I conducted a marriage between two animals. But I followed all the rituals that I do in human marriages”, priest Daitari Dash said.
The monkeys were then presented with gifts, mostly bananas and coconuts, but also a gold necklace for the bride donated by a local businessman.
“I feel as if my own daughter is getting married. I cannot bear the thought that she would not be with us anymore” Mamina, the woman who has been looking after Jhumri after her husband found her at a local temple, said.
Her ‘groom’ was caught in a neighbouring mango orchard by a couple who raised him as their pet.
After the wedding the couple, chained till now, were released by their owners and took up residence in a nearby park.
Monkeys are considered holy by India’s majority Hindu community that associates them with the god Hanuman.
Millions of Indians visit Hanuman temples every Tuesday and anyone trying to trap or scare off monkeys is frequently beaten up or chased away.
Killing the animals is out of the question and most people believe feeding the animals is propitious.
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