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RESIDENTS OF TALWAS, India, celebrated the wedding of Raju and Chinki on July 11 in what was the world’s first-ever monkey marriage. The caretakers of the happy couple are pleased to see the animals wed after two months of preparation.

“We will welcome the bride in our house in Banetha after the wedding with all rituals,” said Ramesh Saini, the rickshaw driver with whom Raju has been living, to Stuff magazine.

Over 2,000 villagers were expected at the wedding ceremony, which is somewhat less surprising considering monkeys are regarded as the embodiment of the Hindu god Hanuman, who’s held in high regard by many Indians.

After finding the monkey unconscious and nursing him back to health three years ago, Saini says the animal is like a son to him, regularly smoking and eating with Raju. He was particularly excited to find a mate for his primate kin.

“I want to enjoy the feelings of a son’s marriage through Raju’s wedding,” said Saini.

The carefully planned celebration was thrown off course when state forest department officials warned anyone found attending the wedding of the two primates would be arrested. Because, monkeys are protected government property in India, no one is able to touch a monkey without permission—much less marry two of them.

Despite government officials’ best attempts to stop the wedding, Raju and Chinki were married in a quiet ceremony deep in the nearby woods. Soon after the celebration, officials captured the animals and plan to release them far from civilization. Many villagers remain hopeful for the monkeys’ return.

“I know my son Raju, with his wife Chinki, will come back home,” said Saini. “I will have a big reception for them.”