A step against cruelty to animals: No ghodi, just baraat, say these Delhi bridegrooms
A jubilant bridegroom gallantly entering the wedding venue on a decked up white mare is a common sight at Delhi weddings. While this has been a part of the age-old wedding tradition in many regions of India, it’s hard for the poor mare. Even as people soak up all the merriment , these hapless animals are often kept hungry and thirsty for hours, and they sometimes come back injured. Moved by the plight of these helpless animals, a large number of Delhi-based couples have decided to keep them out of their celebrations.
In July this year, the NGO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) complained to Delhi Police about mares being wounded after being hired for weddings in the Capital. The police seized the horses. Earlier, in June, PETA requested couples to go for horse-free weddings and circulated a pledge for couples to sign. The animals get injured by spiked bits and are traumatised by the loud music, crowds, and firecrackers burst at weddings.
The campaign is making an impact on bridegrooms. This wedding season, many men are opting for vintage cars rather than horses when they take the baraat to the bride’s place. “I’m totally against riding horses and making them endure the torture they usually suffer at weddings. I prefer coming in a vintage car, which also has more horsepower,” says Delhi-based lawyer Ankit Sibbal, who’s getting married in December this year.
For Abhimanyu Harlalka, management professional from Gurugram, riding a mare at one’s wedding is “all a fanfare, which for me is unnecessary”. He states, “I’m an animal lover myself and won’t be riding on a ghodi for my wedding in January.” Also, Abhinav Verma, an HR professional who’s tying the knot this December in Delhi, has ditched the idea of riding a horse. “I won’t not be riding a horse,” he says. “My parents were a little sceptical of this earlier, but now they’re happy that we aren’t hurting any animals during the wedding.”
“Over some days in July, PETA India, in association with Delhi Police, conducted a law enforcement drive throughout the city against the illegal use of spiked (or ‘thorn’ ) bits, which are used to control horses used for weddings and to give rides. We looked at horses being used for wedding ceremonies mostly in West Delhi, from where spiked bits were removed from the mouths of more than 50 horses and were replaced with smooth ones. Every year, hundreds of such horses used for weddings and other ceremonies are sorely abused, often whipped and suffer from wounds and bruises. They’re commonly lame, dehydrated and malnourished and are made to endure terrifying and chaotic noises and crowds of weddings with the use of spiked bits,” explains Sachin Bangera, associate director of celebrity and public relations, PETA India.
Recently, Delhi police, with the support of PETA India, seized four bone-thin, malnourished, and injured horses used for weddings and other ceremonies in the city. One mare, found under Maharaja Surajmal Stadium metro station in Nangloi village, had large wounds on her body and legs. Another, found in a park near Sanjay Market in Nand Nagri, was lame from an old fracture of the left front leg and was unable to bear her bodyweight on the leg. Of the two mares seized from JJ Colony in Nangloi, one suffered from a severe skin infection and the other had no vision in her left eye. “The law is clear when it comes to animal rights and using sick animals for performances, exhibitions and weddings. However, there’s no particular law that states that horses can’t be used for weddings. That’s why we urge people to understand the plight of a horse and be sensitive to them,” says Madhur Verma, DCP New Delhi district.
Supporting this, many bridegrooms-to-be in Delhi have pledged to not support this cruel business. Celebrities also have had horse-free weddings recently. The list includes Bollywood stars such as Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi; Sagarika Ghatge and Zaheer Khan; and Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja. Following the trend, Delhi-based couples have also opted to go for horse-free weddings. “My wife and I both don’t believe in harming animals for our recreation. And I’ve seen them force a horse to go on his hind legs, and pulling the spiked iron bit that goes into their mouth — [the handlers] get some kind of sadistic pleasure; it’s so sad to see the horse suffer because of the rearing,” says Aditya Dalal, a 30-year-old businessman, who got married in January 2017. “People may not realise what it does to the horses, and how much pain they go through, but we were very certain that we didn’t want to torture a poor animal on our happy day. Our entire family is well aware of what animals go through during these processions, and was in complete support of our decision.” Similarly, Kartik Adlakha also opted for a horse-free wedding. “I volunteer for animals, so I knew the torture animals go through during weddings. Hence, wanted to avoid it. My family was very supportive of the idea. Today, there are many different and innovative ways for a bridegroom to arrive and so we went for those,” says Adlakha.