The torture of a wedding animal in India can be compared to that of a labour camp. From blind horses to overworked elephants, these creatures have a much harder existence than their momentary presence belies.
Consider the white mares that you see slowly ambling along, groom on top. These horses are housed outside the city border, and have to walk 30-50 km in the morning to the venue itself.
Once the baraat begins, a heavy throne saddle is placed atop, and the groom and nephew climb on. The noise from the wedding band is loud and extremely distressing for the horse, but the handler holds it tightly by the bit, so it can’t rear its head up.
An iron chain is fitted into the mouth of the horse, constantly grating its teeth and making its gums bleed. Fire-lanterns surrounding the horse make it heat up excessively.
In the midst of these excruciating conditions, the steed is forced to walk several more kilometres slowly before the groom finally dismounts.
Then it has to go to another wedding.
Using horses in weddings is an age old tradition, but it stems from a practise of stealing wives. This slowly morphed into the groom riding a stallion. Instead, one could use a palanquin, or any manner of carriage that doesn’t use animals.
The festivities finally end late at night, and the horse has to walk back outside the city before doing the whole thing again.
Most of them are partially blind and deaf, can barely walk, and end up dying of exhaustion.
Similarly, elephants used in ceremonies like royal weddings and wedding processions face a painful and exploitative existence.
For one wedding in Orissa, an elephant was called from Rajasthan. The elephant was forced to walk hundreds of kilometres in dreadful conditions, simply to add excess to a show.
Many handlers force elephants into scary situations, denying them food and water in an effort to break their spirit, so they’ll do their bidding. This is one of the reasons elephant exhibits were banned in Mumbai in 2007.
Elephants are a huge part of royal weddings, something that really needs to be done away with. There’s no point putting them through duress just to impress your guests.
Camels face the same unfortunate fate too. They’re a significant part of several weddings, usually being forced to stand around for hours.
Camels are overworked and forced to perform. All for the amusement of the masses.
Using a camel just as a symbol of wealth and clout is honestly plain sad. There’s no reason for these poor animals to be there whatsoever, let alone as playthings for your entertainment.
This kind of wide-ranging animal abuse has no place in modern society. Just because it’s entrenched in our traditions doesn’t mean it’s justified. These are living, breathing, sentient beings. They feel pain, joy, sadness, and experience trauma. To that end, it’s high time we started finding other ways to ‘amuse’ ourselves, just for the sake of putting on a show.