Published: 11th November 2019
Why wedding photographer Richa Kashelkar is asking grooms to get off their high horse
Richa Kashelkar shares her personal experience as a photographer and why she has decided to speak openly about animals and loud weddings
Can you imagine your dog being forcefully led to walk amidst loud and scary drums? Poked and hit if they so much as flinch or refuse to go close to the chaos?, asks Richa Kashelkar on an Instagram post from November 6. Richa is a photographer who mainly covers events like weddings.
As a wedding photographer, she was in on the open secret that photographers and cinematographers who documented weddings have known for a long time: The animals used for Baraat processions are terrified. For a long time, she used to think that people didn't care about the animals as much as they cared about themselves. And what's the point about talking about something people don't care to listen to?
Recently, she writes in the post, she shot for a cool wedding for a 'woke' family. A family, that she is sure, wouldn't have agreed to use animals at their wedding if they knew the ground realities that go behind it. She realised that she was unwittingly a part of an industry that glorifies the idea of animals being at weddings and made it look cool because of 'years of cultural promotions and Bollywood'. So she decided that she had the responsibility to spread the word about what really happens out there. She says, "Those of us who have pets who shiver and hide under the bed during Diwali need to talk about this just as much."
When asked about her personal experience, she says, "From what I've seen, it's not that the animals are intentionally ill-treated, and I don't want anyone getting that idea. It's just that they inevitably end up being scared of all the loud music and crackers, and then have to be forced to go along with it."
And it's much worse for the larger animals. She writes, "Majestic elephants quiver as the mahout keeps poking them with spears to make them obey despite the obvious fear they are under. Camels are startled and feel helpless as obnoxiously loud firecrackers burst around them. Horses with beautiful bejewelled blinders covering their eyes, stand in fear as ear drum blasting music plays within inches of where they stand."
She explains that the fright and confusion the animals go through is blatantly visible if anyone chooses to look close enough. In fact, she says that any animal you spot at one of these weddings looking calm would probably have resigned to theri unfortunate fate. Because the fact is, that no animal would be comfortable in a setting as chaotic.
The funniest thing, she says, is that the whole affair is completely unnecessary. She recounts countless weddings she has covered where people ride a bike, cycle or rickshaw to the wedding venue. She asks, "Why ride a sacred animal for a token 100 m in front of your wedding venue? Just go in dancing, it looks much cooler anyway!"
And on a last plea-laden note, Richa asks, "If compassion towards helpless animals doesn't strike the chord for you, maybe consider the fact that it is counter-productive to start such an auspicious event of your life with the cries of a tortured animal."