India Witnesses Its First Monkey Marriage, Because Why Not?

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Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Ramesh Saini, a 38-year-old rickshaw driver, holds his monkey Raju in the village of Banetha, located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, India

Gay marriage has gotten its due. Now it’s time to pave the way for monkey marriage.

The village of Talwas, deep in the forests of India, seems to be mixed up in some serious monkey business. The tiny Indian village recently became home to two monkeys who tied the knot, a first in the country.

As for the lucky couple, Raju, the groom, was known in his village for “eating, sleeping and smoking cigarettes with his owner, Ramesh Saini, who treated him like a son.” Chinki, the bride, belonged to a priest in a nearby village.

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Rather than a result of love, the marriage was closer to a traditional arranged marriage, which is common in Indian culture. Two months ago, Chinki’s owner approached Saini with a marriage proposition.

It turns out there is just one small problem: the marriage, according to officials, violates the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act. Citizens aren’t allowed to pet or train monkeys, never mind marry them off. The animals play a significant role in Hindu culture.

As a result, both the monkeys and their owners were forced to go into hiding. Still, the planning had been nothing short of extravagant: hundreds of invitations were sent out, and a pre-wedding feast and a procession complete with a horse were in the works.

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On the day of the nuptials, authorities flooded Talwas and encountered hundreds of villagers awaiting the spectacle. The monkeys, meanwhile, were secretly married in the deep woods as a result.

Officials have since found Raju and Chinki and hope to release them back into the wild soon. But for Saini, who is a childless rickshaw driver, Raju’s wedding was just a way for him, in his words, “to enjoy the feelings of a son’s marriage.”

Erica Ho is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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