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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

hiring Alpacas for marriage .. !!

In South Indian marriages, there is this ‘KasiYatra’ and you have a mapillaithozhan [friend of bridegroom accompanying]. My knowledge of animals and their classification is so low that if I were to name 10 wild animals – would stick to the option of 4 Tigers, 4 Lions and 2 Rhinos….  I have never heard or read of an animal with the scientific name ‘Lama Pacos’ – so that an article of their presence in weddings being a new craze enthused me !

An alpaca,  is a domesticated species of South American camelid ! It resembles a small llama in appearance.   Camelids are members of the biological family Camelidae.  Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order along with pigs, hippopotami, deer, giraffes, cattle, goats, antelope, and many others.There are two breeds of alpaca; the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca.

Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at high altitudes throughout the year. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fibre.  Alpaca fibre is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool. These items include blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, a wide variety of textiles and ponchos in South America, and sweaters, socks, coats and bedding in other parts of the world. The fibre comes in more than 52 natural colours as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States.

In the textile industry, "alpaca" primarily refers to the hair of Peruvian alpacas, but more broadly it refers to a style of fabric originally made from alpaca hair, but now often made from similar fibres, such as mohair, Icelandic sheep wool, or even high-quality English wool.

Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups consisting of a territorial alpha male, females and their young. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet, and can spit and kick.

Now read this interesting report that appeared in MailOnline today – new craze in Japan sees couples hiring ‘Alpacas’ to be witnesses at their wedding and a hotel - Hotel EpinardNasu in Tochigi, Japan, offers a special wedding package…… after walking down the aisle and witnessing, animal returns to zoo – of course not without making appearance in wedding photographs. 

Be it in Japan or elsewhere, Weddings are a sacred ritual and formal expression of love between two people promising to spend the rest of their lives together – and as such, the importance of such a day, and seriousness of the occasion, cannot be underestimated.

But this seems lost on a hotel in Japan that allows couples getting married to hire an alpaca to act as the witness.  … hiring  an alpaca to be the witness at wedding is one of the more unique requests…. The furry animals are even dressed up specially for the occasion, and are led by experienced handlers. 

The hotel in question, the EpinardNasu in Tochigi, even allows the animals to appear in the wedding photographs, before returning to the local zoo, which just happens to be next door.  – one thing is that the guests would have to give the animal some space - the alpaca, like the closely related llama, has a tendency to spit. The alpaca isn't believed to bring good luck or prosperity - it seems the only reason it is included in the service is for the novelty factor. 

It probably would not be every bride's cup of tea in Britain but in the Far East, it is taking off as a popular wedding addition.  The reason for an alpaca's popularity is simply that it looks cute and children think they are adorable ~the big furry white animals  are normally found in zoos but this hotel in Japan offers the services of a well behaved one !

The alpaca is led to the ceremony by an experienced handler, and it is hoped the animal will be on its best behaviour - after being led down the aisle by a trained handler, the alpaca is allowed to observe from the best seat in the house.  For those interested in this wedding with a difference, the price of the alpaca celebration is not detailed on the hotel website.The inclusion of the fluffy animal, which is washed and groomed before the nuptials, is being seen as a break away from the more formal, ritual-heavy Shinto weddings. The hotel itself is a serene spot, according to the website.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th July 2015.

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