High Profile Same-Sex Beach Wedding in Goa Gets Into Controversy Due to Use of an Elephant in ‘Baaraat’

Same-Sex courtship is no more an issue as the homosexual have been given a green signal by the Government live together and get married in India. But still, it is a very uncommon event that takes place once in a while and thus it always catches the attention of media. Here, in this case, a high profile wedding attended by various Bollywood celebrities including Katrina Kaif has entered into the controversy due to the use of Elephant in the celebration. Here is the complete story.

According to the report published by the TOI, The use of an elephant for a same-sex wedding procession in Goa has evoked strong reactions from equal rights and animal rights activists, who have lodged a complaint with the state chief wildlife warden to take immediate action in the matter.

According to the sources, the wedding event held at a posh seaside resort had a ‘Baaraat’ (procession) featured the couple, both men, seated upon the adorned elephant, making a grand entry into the venue and this did not go well with equal rights and animal rights activist Harish Iyer.

“As a community which has suffered discrimination and suppression, we ought to be more sensitive. To use wild animals for entertainment, ceremonies or joyrides sends a very wrong message,” said Harish Iyer, an equal rights activist from the LGBTQ community adding that it will set the wrong precedent for the others. “I would’ve been equally upset if a heterosexual couple had used it for their wedding.”

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According to the reports, this high profile wedding was also attended by the famous Bollywood Actress Katrina Kaif. Hiring and renting out of elephants for commercial activities is prohibited, as these animals are a schedule-1 protected species under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002.

This thing does not stop here. The president of people for animals (PFA), Goa, Norma Alvares demanded an investigation into this issue and she also wrote a letter to the Goa forest department’s chief wildlife warden, Santosh Kumar in this regard.   

“Our very brief inquiries with the resort staff have revealed that the elephant was arranged for by a wedding planner. She was transported to the highway in a vehicle, and then marched on foot to the wedding venue, uphill to Dona Paula, on a tarred road,” she wrote.

Alvares said the elephant was from a spice farm in Goa and demanded that the forest department take action against the “errant parties” for allowing the animal to be used for the procession.      

“This instance confirms that elephants are continuously being used for performances in Goa, and we are now left with no other recourse than to approach the high court-seeking appropriate orders for the protection and welfare of these elephants,” she said in her complaint.

Meanwhile, the forest officer Mr Kumar told the TOI that the matter has been referred to the North Goa deputy conservator of forests (DCF). “If it is a case of cruelty against animals, then the department of veterinary services and animal husbandry will take action. If the elephant is illegally brought and used, then we will take action. We have to inquire and investigate the matter,” Kumar said.

According to the sources, There are 10 captive elephants in Goa’s spice farms, one of which was recently ‘borrowed’ by an Ayyappa temple to carry out a religious ceremony, wherein the elephant was worshipped, DCF Kuldeep Sharma said. The temple was granted the permit on the condition that the jumbo would not be used for entertainment or commercial activities.      

“In the case of this wedding, no permission request has come to us,” Sharma said. “We would need to check if the elephant is one of the 10 from the spice farms in Goa. If it is, then they would have had to take permission for the transportation of the elephant from one place to another,” he said.

The resort management tried to wash their hands off from this incident claiming that they were no aware of any such incident and the incident took place outside of their premises. The resort manager of the property said that they have a strict no pets/animals policy.

“The procession started outside the hotel and culminated in the parking lot. We didn’t know about the elephant until we saw it in the hotel’s parking lot, ” the resort manager told TOI.

“It is completely outrageous and illegal… The couple has made a mistake without even thinking about it,” said a representative of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations. To display captive elephants at wedding processions is retrogressive and illegal, he said.

Goa is one of the well-known wedding destinations in the country lot of big fat weddings takes place in the state and most of them involves the big-time businessman, Corporates, celebrities and Bollywood actors, and since Goan hotels are dependent on the revenue from such events it becomes very difficult at times to say not them.   

Source: TOI | Washingtonian    

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