Definitions

in human form

Human-animal marriage

Human-animal marriage, i.e., marriage between humans and non-human animals, is not recognized by any modern country, but historically, people have married animals as part of religious traditions or to bring good luck, often involving elaborate ceremonies. Such marriages as are allowed by tradition, or within a culture, are often symbolic or ritual, rather than the more usual recognition of a relationship.

Law

No present-day national jurisdiction allows marriage between humans and non-human animals. They are not legally recognized and purported marriage ceremonies have no legislative validity.

Historical cases

Horse

  • In some parts of Celtic Ireland, kings (often called "sacred kings") had to wed the local goddess of the land. A druidess was usually chosen to represent the land goddess as the king's wife, but one king in Donegal married a horse, a representative of their local goddess.
  • May 1998 - The Jerry Springer Show had an episode titled "I married a horse". The show was ultimately not aired by many stations on the planned date, apparently due to concerns about the acceptability of broadcasting an episode in which a man admitted to a long term emotional and sexual relationship of this kind. The man and his horse later participated in a British documentary on the subject.

Dog

  • June 2003 - a nine year old Indian girl of the Santal (or 'Santhal') tribe of Khanyhan, near Calcutta was formally married to a dog, in order to ward off a bad omen. The wedding was attended by more than one hundred guests, who danced to the beating of drums and drank home-made liquor. The girl told Western press, "I have no regret in marrying the dog Bacchan. I am fond of the dog who moves around our locality," and tribal elders added she was free to remarry in future as an adult.
  • November 2007 - A man in southern India married a female dog in a traditional Hindu ceremony as an attempt to atone for stoning two other dogs to death — an act he believes cursed him. Selvakumar, 33, told the paper he had been suffering since he stoned two dogs to death and hung their bodies from a tree 15 years ago.

Dolphin

  • December 2005 - forty-one-year-old Sharon Tendler of Great Britain unofficially married Cindy, a male dolphin held at the Dolphin Reef dolphinarium in Eilat, Israel, in a ceremony where she offered fish and the dolphin 'kissed' her. She had been visiting Cindy regularly for the past fifteen years. Tendler requested permission from the dolphin's trainer for the "wedding". The marriage, painted romantically by the media, was in her words considered "a bit of fun" after her friends joked about her being single at that age.

Goat

  • February 2006 - a Sudanese man caught having sex with a neighbour's goat which was subsequently nicknamed Rose, was ordered by the council of elders to pay the neighbour a dowry of 5,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) and marry the animal.

Snake

  • June 2006 - an Indian woman from Bhubaneswar, Orissa, allegedly "fell in love with a snake" and was married to it at a "traditional Hindu wedding celebrated by 2,000 guests". She claimed a bond of understanding existed between the two. The woman had previously been ill, and recovered upon offering milk to the snake, at which time she fell in love. She later "converted to the animal-loving vegetarian Vaishnav sect whose local elders gave her permission to marry the cobra."

An investigation by Harper's magazine journalist Mischa Berlinski suggests that the snake may not even exist at all and that the incident may have been stage-managed as part of a local power struggle between Vaishnav religious leaders.

Folklore, myth, and popular culture

  • A Korean folktale, sometimes known as The Silkworm, tells how silk originated following the King's daughter spiritually marrying a horse, in completion of a promise made in times of trouble. In the tale, the princess was reborn as a silkworm, a creature whose appearance and mannerisms superficially were said to resemble that of a horse. (From Chonsol Ttara Samch'olli, retold by Heinz Insu Fenkl)
  • A Cheyenne myth "The Girl Who Married a Dog", states that the group of seven stars known as the Pleiades originated from seven puppies which a Cheyenne chief's daughter gave birth to after mysteriously being visited by a dog in human form to whom she vowed "Wherever you go, I go".
  • The Cree people of Waskaganish, Canada, tell the tale of "The Girl and the Dog", in which a girl living alone is visited by a talking dog who she jestingly agrees to marry. The dog hunted for her and she had a hybrid offspring. Finally the woman had human visitors, and resolved to marry one of them, and was killed by the dog in her sleep, out of jealousy. (told by John Blackned)
  • One Inuit origin-myth states that the human races originated from the offspring of a girl who married a dog.
  • South Park parodied PETA with an episode on PETA members involving human - animal marriage due to the equivalence PETA members put on animals.
  • The Decemberists' album The Crane Wife re-tells the Japanese folk-tale of a man who marries a crane in human form.

References

See also

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