Bearing the weight of big fat Indian weddings

Amid the wedding season, the plight of the horses is generally forgotten. Patriot takes a look at the deplorable condition of Rani, one such mare who was rescued from South Delhi

Delhi, as is common for this time of the year, saw thousands of weddings taking place. In fact, on November 21, a whopping 8,000. While one may just take it as a colossal number thinking about the traffic jams, the festivities around it, what one forgets is the horses which are a common part of the Hindu wedding ceremony. The groom sitting on a female horse riding to the wedding venue is a practice going on for generations and in this practice the horse, overworked, and at most times kept in inhumane conditions.

One such horse who has been used for such grandeur of humans was rescued by a team of animal activists, in a rescue operation that went on for about six hours. The horse, now named ‘Rani’ by her rescuers, was rescued from Madangir area of South Delhi, after she was found in a deplorable condition according to the press release shared.

She was found to be lying “almost unconscious on the pavement and showing signs of dehydration – due to being subjected to more work than her frail body could endure”, stated the press release.

The mare also had an apparent fracture in both the front legs and was sent for examination by the medical team at the Delhi Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). “The horse was unable to even stand, let alone walk; yet, no medical care was provided by her ‘owner’. On the contrary, they kept insisting that she was perfectly fine and that she was just resting. The mare was unable to put any pressure on her hind limbs, owing to her being overworked to the bone. This is just one of innumerable such cases, several of which go unreported, leading to the cruel, lonesome deaths of thousands of such mares across the nation.”

Sunayana Sibal, a fellow at the Ahimsa Fellowship Programme, who was part of the rescue operation, wants people to find alternatives to using animals for their wedding procession. “With the changing times and a plethora of affordable options available- from hiring a vintage or a luxury car to renting a Harley Davidson or just using any car; there is no reason for an innocent animal to be put through extreme pain and suffering at weddings”.

Dr Asher Jesudoss, also part of the Ahimsa Fellows, also part of the rescue operation, filed a police complaint against the owner of the horse. The mare has been sent to the Delhi Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) in an ambulance; the horse is now under medical supervision.

The animal right activists point to why using horses is wrong and should be done away with. Wedding processions brimming with noisy crackers, boisterous crowds and blaring music overwhelm these panic-stricken horses. To retain control over these horses, their mouths are fitted with painful, illegal spiked bits that frequently cut through their bleeding gums.

When not being forced to trudge through marriage processions, these wedding- horses are tied on the pavement for hours on end, standing in their own dung, and swarming with flies that infest their open wounds and pose a threat to sanitation and public safety as well. They are tied with ropes shorter than their miserable lives, tethers that render them unable to turn around or relax after long hours of work. This tethering, along with constant exploitation, produces the kind of injuries like the ones Rani suffered, and they often go unnoticed in the frenzy of wedding festivities.

(Cover: The groom arrives for his wedding ceremony on a horse in the outskirts of New Delhi Representational image: Getty Images)

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