Monkey weddingThe blushing bride was radiant in her 5 metre long sari, decked in flowers. The groom made his way to the temple amidst music, dancing and fireworks. Crowds flocked from all around to see these young love birds finally cement their relationship in marriage, and lavished gifts on each of them: including a gold necklace for the bride. A royal wedding might not have been much grander.

It was a wonderful occasion, thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Oh, and by the way: the bride and groom were both monkeys.

Monkeys getting hitched, whatever next? It all happened in Ghanteswara, a little Indian village in Orissa state. Over 3000 villagers attended the elaborate Hindu ceremony and afterwards gorged themselves in a feast of rice, lentils, vegetables, fish and sweets (no bananas?).

The episode isn’t quite so odd when you consider the fact that Monkeys are revered idols in Hindu mythology. Mamina, who had been looking after the female monkey, said that she felt as though it was her own daughter getting married (what on earth does her daughter look like?). The male was found in a mango orchard and had been kept in captivity until now. After the marriage, in which the priest followed the same ceremony that would be used for two people, the monkeys were released from captivity, presumably to look for a house, enjoy a bit of monkey business, bring up kids, fight over the TV remote control, and row when he comes home drunk for the 3rd night in a row.

I guess it was all a bit of fun – albeit expense fun – dressing up monkeys and having a little ceremony before releasing them. Waste of money? Perhaps, but it isn’t my money so I couldn’t give a monkeys how they spend it.

To most of us marriage is about a man and woman publicly demonstrating their love. More recently the concept is being broadened to include gay couples (although here in Britain it isn’t technically a marriage but a “civil partnership”). Now we have marriages between animals in India, which I doubt very few people will care much about – it’s unlikely to start catching on in the West (except obviously for George Bush and his missus).

So as far as marriage goes that leaves two other possibilities left to explore. One is polygamy, widely practiced around the world but not in Western countries that historically have been dominated by Christian values. To me polygamy is a minefield and why anyone would want to try to negotiate multiple marriage relationships escapes me. I’d sooner slide down a 50 foot razor blade and use my balls for brakes. One wife to nag me for leaving wet towels on the floor is enough thank you very much. But of course my own opposition to the practice should not be a factor in deciding that other people who want to try out such relationships should be legally forbidden from so doing. When consenting adults are involved it shouldn’t become the business of any moralist to dictate what they should and should not be allowed to do. Admittedly a large part of me is incredibly curious as to how polygamy would pan out in practice. Would a man with 7 wives have a different one every night? Could one of these 7 wives have other husbands? And what happens in the event of a divorce? The mind boggles.

But it doesn’t boggle quite as much as our last possibility: marriage between a human being and an animal. I remember seeing an American guy on TV – almost definitely on the Jerry Springer show – who wanted to marry his pet horse. She was a fine filly and he regularly enjoyed a bit of, umm, horsing around with her, claiming that she enjoyed the ride as much as he did. A member of the audience asked how he could justify having sex with an animal since it was not in a position to give consent. His answer was that the horse was much bigger than him and if she didn’t want him to have sex with her then she could easily walk away, or kick him in the bollocks. Seemingly she didn’t. Undenial logic there, eh? OK, fair enough – the horse enjoyed a roll in the hay with her rather twisted partner. Is that enough to justify a marriage? Hardly. Marriage must involve informed and explicit consent. To respond to the question: “Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?” with a hearty: “NEEIIGHHH” doesn’t count as informed and explicit consent. Just because the horse has sex with him with a smile on her face doesn’t mean it’s in a position to give meaningful consent either to marriage or to sex anymore than a mentally retarded person or a young child is. So, for this libertarian inter-species marriage is out.

Which is a pity, I’d love to have seen the kids.