Everyone who has been to India will have noticed the large number of celebratory festival days. With some 33 million Gods, it’s not surprising!
At the moment it is the extended Diwali season here, all female staff have to be home to cook and serve the many sweet treats prepared for all the relatives, guests and visitors to their homes. Males are often busy building the giant Narawasur, The Demon King, statues, to be ceremonially burnt later. Because this is the time to lavishly decorate and open your home to everyone, everything has to be tidy and clean. Unfortunately this means to many, also getting rid of those pesky animals, mainly puppies and kittens hanging about their properties, so they are dumped at the local fish markets, where, purely theoretically, they can live instead.
On nearly every trip to the markets for monkey food at this time of the year, these lost and frightened animals can be seen. Only the youngest however can usually be rescued, the older animals are immediately attacked and killed, or driven away, by the resident dog packs. A sack full of small puppies was tipped out on the busy road side there, as I drove by, by the time I had parked the van and got back, the local dogs had already killed one and badly injured another. Those four were taken in by the WVS Hicks ITC centre, for treatment and re-homing. This week I found a little white puppy, which had been picked up by someone as a body, and put in the trash bin, trouble is, it was still alive! but although it initially responded to a warm blanket and gentle rubbing, it expired shortly after. The 24 hours over festival days, of fireworks and crackers to celebrate, that are purchased and set off even by small children, are yet another hazard for all the animals.
As you can imagine these festivals do not leave me filled with joy!
The easier monkeys to handle, still get their daily walks and a chance to swim, even when many staff are off, the more difficult to handle ones, wait patiently for the end of festivities. Dixie, although one of our youngest monkeys could almost be described as one of these, she has always had a stroppy and bossy nature, one that would have been trained out of her as a youngster, had she had the strict input of her mother and troop when growing up. This is something hard for any human to do, and needs a monkeys wisdom and understanding to achieve, however hard us humans try, we are a poor substitute, and so “our” babies often grow up as naughty! She has taken on the role of family protector to all her pen mates, and does not hesitate to pile in and stand up against any monkey, for any of them, if she feels they are not getting proper respect!
Of course all the feeding and cleaning still has to be done, despite the festivals, and many staff turn up now to do this in the early mornings, and after hours, to fit in with their home celebrations.
The tourist holiday season is nearly upon us, as the weather settles down to sun, and then more sun. Hopefully, this will also bring us from our visiting supporters, some more of the second hand, British made, baby and toddler toys for the monkeys. Even with tough UK standards of manufacture, many of last year’s gifts, are by now reduced to little more than plastic scrap, but the Chinese made, locally available ones, are just so flimsy, they get destroyed immediately.