Indian brides wanting perfect wedding day hire large monkeys to scare off smaller ones

Wedding rings - check. Brass band - check. Large, aggressive monkeys - check.

Anxious brides wanting the perfect wedding day are leaving nothing to chance in the Indian city of Agra, hiring large monkeys and their handlers to keep pesky smaller ones at bay.

Grey langurs are becoming increasingly common at outdoor weddings to ward off their natural enemy rhesus monkeys which are known to gatecrash and wreak havoc, an official said.

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"The langur-handlers are much in demand during the winter wedding season," Ram Avtaar, an official in the city's municipal corporation, told AFP by phone on Tuesday.

"They usually charge up to 3,000 rupees (£32) if booked in advance but the rates can go up to 10,000 (£107) in case of an emergency when monkeys have already entered a venue."

Though revered in the majority Hindu nation, monkeys are a major menace in many cities, trashing gardens, office and residential rooftops and even viciously attacking people for food.

Agra, home to the Taj Mahal which attracts huge numbers of tourists, has seen monkey numbers increase in recent years, in part because devout Hindus believe feeding them is auspicious.

With weddings increasingly held outdoors, many brides in Agra have already faced a simian scare, the Times of India reported.

Amita Singh was quoted as saying she was shocked to find a group of uninvited monkeys chattering away on her wedding day.

"I was so scared that I fell off my chair," the daily quoted the 29-year-old as saying. "My make-up and dress were completely spoilt."

She hired a langur and handler for her reception, held on a separate day for Hindu weddings.

Deepesh Gupta, another resident, who attended a wedding at which the groom was attacked by monkeys, said he recently hired three langurs which were positioned strategically during his daughter's marriage.

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