Cut the Cruelty Out of Your Baraat

2013 Oct 1 - by dulhan
My favorite part of an Indian wedding is the Baraat.  You are literally dancing your way up the street and hoisting the groom up in the air.  It's a Bollywood winner's circle!

While families may want the traditional riding in on a "white horse", not all equestrian caretakers are created equal.

To be clear, not all horses or elephants are mistreated, BUT there are places that just don't treat their animals. Case in point, a horse that rides around Central Park New York, died of malnutrition.

The Noble Steed

The horses that are commonly hired for Baraats are the horses that pull carriages through the city and they are not always treated well by their owners.  Many cart-drivers force their horses into unsafe traffic situations, deny them food in an effort to "break" them, and otherwise abuse them.

There are many laws and restrictions that attempt to curb the usage of horses in urban areas, but many are ignored because it is too expensive to monitor each and every carthorse.  If you are going to hire a horse for your Baraat, be aware of these laws - it would suck to have your parade shut down by an angry policeman.

Rather than hire from a carthorse company, consider getting a horse from a local stable, equestrian school, or from a company that works with baraat horses.  These animals are cared for and loved and they're used to people.  

Talk this over at length with whomever you are hiring from.  Remember, horses are living, thinking things that get scared and upset and they need to be taken care of if you don't want your groom galloped off down the street.

Choose horses that look well-fed and loved.  Your money can go a long way to support good industries so make sure it does.

The Elephant in the Room

Elephants in baraats are exciting and gorgeously mighty. However, elephants have even a poorer history of mistreatment from their owners. Think Ringling Brothers Circus in the United States.

Elephants in India are especially likely to be mistreated. According to an article from the New York Times, the show elephant industry is especially cruel,

"For now Rajan [the mahout, the elephant trainer] was keeping his distance — he’d been on the job for only 15 days. But soon he would teach Ramachandran [the elephant] to obey him. He’d probably start with a beating. “Otherwise he won’t listen,” Rajan said. “That is how you train an elephant, with beatings.” A previous mahout’s beating left Ramachandran blind in one eye."

Read the article for a more graphic explanation of what goes on behind the scenes.

Some elephant companies are known for their care and dedication to their animals, notably Have Trunk Will Travel. Whatever you choose to do, *research* the company you are going to hire for elephants or horses.

Remember, while you may not be actively harming the Baraat horse or the elephant directly, by hiring them you may be supporting abusive industries in which they are treated like things rather than thinking and sentient beings.

A few alternatives to the baraat

Instead of hiring an animal for the Baraat, what about getting a sweet palanquin or a rickshaw?  You could even have some brothers hoist the groom on their shoulders.  

Or, you could get/make a small chariot to hook up to a truck.  

All of these are traditional wedding options, especially because the palanquin or the chariot were used by princes in ancient India.

If you want something modern and posher, what about having the groom standing through the sunroof of a limo?  

The limo itself could be blaring the Baraat music.  

Sources: One Green Planet and The Humane Society of the United States