We are truly living in interesting times. In this country alone there are more states where you can marry your first cousin than there are where you can marry your soul mate. It’s as though we live in some looking glass world where everything’s sideways to common sense. There are those who argue, without laughing, that allowing same sex marriages would open the door to man/sheep weddings. I can’t see that really being an issue outside of Montana, but some people claim there’s biblical precedent so that justifies their stance. They must have a different copy of the Bible than I do. They do lots of stuff with sheep in it, but most of it involves sacrificing not wooing. I’m hard pressed to find the parallels. This is especially true since all civilized societies frown on the practice of human sacrifice, no matter which version of the Bible they’ve been reading. When wedding vows say “Until death do you part” they aren’t referring to a moment 30 seconds later with the bride strapped to an alter and being gutted. That just takes all the fun out of marriage.
But, no matter which side of the above debate you find yourself on, you have to admit that it’s difficult to find fault with monkey on monkey love. Monkeys don’t even get a mention in the Bible. You almost wish they did, it’d make for some fun reading.
“And Abraham sayeth to his simian companion, “Opp, eek, oop opp, opp” and his companion doth sayeth in return, “Oop.””
Now that would keep theologians busy for millenia.
Nevertheless, in India, monkey on monkey love is fine as long as it’s practiced in the wild, away from prying eyes. But when it becomes sanctioned by a village or town, then all bets are off. Since many Indians consider monkeys to be the living avatars of their gods, Indian police found themselves in the unenviable position of having to arrest their gods to prevent them from marrying.
No, I am not making this up. MSNBC has the whole, bizarre, story.
The tale, set in the forests of northwestern India, had all the ingredients of a perfect Bollywood love story: emotion, celebration, star-crossed lovers and a nail-biting climax.
The only difference was that the lovers were monkeys, taking part in India’s first simian wedding — with the whole unfolding drama a classic clash between age-old village belief and the demands of modern life skeptical of that way of thought.
Hindu belief includes worship of animals as avatars of the gods. Monkeys have an especially significant role in Hindu mythology where they are worshipped as avatars of Hanuman, the mighty ape that aided Rama in his fight against evil.
So when plans for the wedding of “Raju” and “Chinki” were laid in the small village of Talwas, deep in the forests of Rajasthan, villagers responded with excitement.
‘A son’s marriage’
Raju, the “groom,” was famous in Banetha village, about 40 miles from Talwas, attracting crowds whenever he went outside. He was known for eating, sleeping and smoking cigarettes with his owner, Ramesh Saini, who treated him like a son.
“I want to enjoy the feelings of a son’s marriage through Raju’s wedding,” said Rajesh, a 38-year-old married but childless auto rickshaw driver who nursed Raju back to health after finding him unconscious three years ago.
So he was overjoyed two months ago when he met Chinki’s caretaker, a priest in a nearby village, who proposed that the two monkeys be married.
“We will welcome the bride in our house in Banetha after the wedding with all rituals,” said an excited Ramesh while offering tea to Raju at a roadside tea shop.
Hundreds of invitation cards were sent out to nearby villages for the wedding, planned according to traditional Hindu customs that include seven rounds of the sacred fire as the wedding vows are recited by a priest. A huge pre-wedding feast was planned, along with a procession with Raju on a horse.
“It’s an open invitation to all the villagers. I am expecting more than 2000 people for the feast,” Ramesh said as he stood with Raju near a huge cooking pot to supervise.
But no good love story is complete without a little hiccup.
Monkey marriages are illegal in India
As news of the marriage spread, the state forest department officials stepped into action. Since monkeys are protected in India as government property, no one can pet them, train them or — as in this case — marry them, even to a fellow monkey.
“It’s illegal to marry a monkey. Anyone found doing that or attending the marriage ceremony will be arrested,” said forest range officer Bhavar Singh Kaviya.
Tensions rose in both villages after officials issued their final warning. The monkeys and their owners went into hiding.
On the day of the planned wedding, more than 200 guards poured into Talwas, where they confronted hundreds of people from nearby villages who had arrived to see the rare spectacle.
“I have come all the way just to watch God’s marriage and now the police are telling me to go back and stay away from the temple,” said Prem Jain, an angry 72-year-old villager, after arguing with a policeman.
“They told me the monkeys have been captured. They can’t capture God!”
But then came the news — the monkey couple had been secretly married off in a ceremony somewhere deep in the forest. The villagers erupted in joy and began celebrating.
‘She is like my daughter’
Forestry officials immediately set out to look for the pair and finally found Chinki tied to a tree. She sported the vermilion mark worn by married Hindu women on their foreheads.
The officials couldn’t resist congratulating Chinki and posed for pictures with her.
“She is like my daughter and I am doing the duties of a good father,” said a smiling Kaviya, carrying the monkey to a jeep.
Both monkeys were captured and officials said they hoped to release them soon in nearby forests, but Ramesh was confident of their eventual return.
“I know my son Raju, with his wife Chinki, will come back home,” said an emotional Ramesh, mingling with the crowd to avoid being caught. “I will have a big reception for them.”
They have to come home. There’s no tea or cigarettes in the jungle.
Personally, aside from all the political and religious furor, I think the whole thing was kind of cute. They should have let the villagers have their ceremony and have some fun. After all, with the entire continent teetering on the edge of famine and other problems related to rampant overpopulation, you’d think there’d be other things the police could be focusing on.
But, that’s just me.
In other monkey news, closer to home, Strongsville, Ohio is reporting the first case of banana rage.
The manager of a cell phone store in Ohio called 911 to report a gorilla had been attacked by a banana.
The Wireless Center in Strongsville, near Cleveland, advertises at curbside with a man in a gorilla suit. Manager Brandon Parham says he was watching last week as a kid dressed as a banana emerged from some bushes and took a flying leap at the store mascot.
Parham says the attacker looked like a Spartan from the movie “300” — except he was a banana.
The gorilla was knocked down but got back up, adjusted his head and went back to work.
WJW-TV reports the banana split — running down the street with other teens.
Police think it was a prank. They weren’t able to find the offending fruit.
Nope, I got nothing after that. How could I top “offending fruit?”
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!