Around Asia: Sniffer dog wedding called offensive

Sri Lankan police have come under criticism after holding a mass wedding for sniffer dogs in a ceremony seen as culturally offensive.

The country’s culture minister condemned the event, at which nine pairs of canines were dressed and wed on a platform decorated with white cloth and flowers.

Resembling a traditional marriage, the ceremony in the central town of Kandy drew guests, including veterinarians, doctors and senior police officers as well as members of the public.

The dogs were even driven away in a police jeep for their “honeymoons”. Veterinarians also presented “marriage certificates” to the canine couples, certifying them suitable for breeding.

TB Ekanayake, the culture and arts minister, said the ceremony “contemptibly devalued” traditional Buddhist wedding rituals.

“This is not acceptable to our cultural norms,” Ekanayake told reporters.

“We are people who really value our traditional weddings – which are only done at auspicious times alongside the chanting of stanzas and poruwa rituals,” he said.

Ekanayake urged the police to conduct a full inquiry into the event.

Police spokesman Buddhika Siriwardena apologized, saying the police department had no intention of causing any insult to the Sri Lankan culture.

The wedding was intended to promote a program to breed sniffer dogs domestically.

“This program is aimed at breeding dogs accustomed to local weather and food, thereby saving money,” Siriwardena said.

He said the police department spent 70 million rupees ($526,000) on importing police dogs from Netherlands.

by Maesie Bertumen

Photo: Bas Van Uyen/Flickr

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