1,500 People Attend Funeral for Monkey in India With Mass Procession and Feast

An estimated 1,500 people attended a funeral for a monkey in India recently, with the funerary rites including a large procession and feast.

Footage posted to Twitter showed crowds of people attending the event, where the last rites for the langur monkey took place. Music can be heard playing in the footage while a procession is seen alongside what appeared to pyre bearing the body of the monkey held aloft by residents attending the funeral.

Attendees at the event, which took place in a village in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, were also filmed sitting down in groups at the event and eating food served by others underneath a colourful marquee structure.

Monkeys are considered sacred for many people in India for their connection in the Hindu religion to Hauman, a Hindu deity closely linked with the animals.

Langur monkeys, of which there are various subspecies, are a common sight across the Indian subcontinent and interact with humans frequently.

Studies have discussed how increasing human proximity with the monkeys has impacted their behaviour, with one research paper published in the International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation suggesting that langurs have come to depend increasingly on food cultivated by their human neighbours.

Two people were arrested as a result of the monkey funeral, NDTV.com reported. This was due to an alleged breach of COVID restrictions in relation to the event.

NDTV said that the funeral had been organised by residents of Dalupura, a village in Madhya Pradesh, after the death of a langur monkey that was a frequent visitor to the village before its death on December 29.

The event reportedly breached Section 144, a legal framework in India that allows leading officials of a state or territory in India to prohibit or limit gatherings of people in urgent circumstances or to apprehend danger. Section 144 has been used by the national and state governments in India to enforce security measures linked to the COVID pandemic.

World Health Organization (WHO) data showed that India reported 168,063 new cases of COVID in the latest 24-hour period.

The second most populous nation on Earth, with around 1.38 billion inhabitants, India has reported 35,875,790 confirmed cases of COVID with 484,213 deaths linked to the pandemic.

In Madhya Pradesh where the funeral took place, there have been a reported 2,317 new COVID cases and one death in the latest 24-hour period, with a reported rise in cases linked to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Langur monkeys in India
Indian gray langurs sit atop a dome of the Orchha palace fort in Madhya Pradesh, India. The monkeys are considered sacred by many in India for their links to the Hindu deity Hauman. XAVIER GALIANA/Getty Images