Police dogs in Sri Lanka
Police dogs in Sri Lanka Reuters

Police officials in Sri Lanka have apologized for staging the “weddings” of nine pairs of police dogs while using Buddhist customs and symbolism during the canine's ceremonies. Associated Press reported that the nuptials, which took place on Monday in the central city of Kandy, featured dogs situated on a “poruwa” – a platform decorated with flowers and white cloth just like the ones used is traditional Sinhalese matrimonial for humans. The dog "brides" were adorned in mittens, shawls and hats while the dog "grooms" wore red ties.

The “holy unions” were registered by officials and witnessed by veterinary surgeons, doctors, senior police officers and about 1,000 members of the public who were served milk rice (rice pudding) and cake. Veterinarians even presented the “happy couples” with “marriage certificates,” which encouraged them to breed. As a bizarre addendum, the “dog couples” were even driven away by police jeeps to celebrate their “honeymoons” at the hilltop resort of Nuwara Eliya.

The incident was condemned by many, including Sri Lanka’s culture and arts minister T.B. Ekananayake who accused police of undermining the nation’s cultural beliefs. "This is not acceptable according to our cultural norms," Ekananayake told reporters. "We are people who really value out traditional weddings -- which are only done at auspicious times alongside the chanting of stanzas and [other] poruwa rituals. The police have demeaned all this by conducting this in the Kandy - the city of the [famous Buddhist] Temple of Truth. I totally condemn this."

He also called for the Inspector General of Police to conduct an immediate investigation. Several national organizations, including the Sihala Ravaya, a Buddhist group, also condemned the weddings as an insult to Sinhalese culture. The police were caught chasing their own tails.

“This program is aimed at [domestically] breeding dogs accustomed to local weather and food, thereby saving money,” said police spokesman Buddhika Siriwardena, who apologized for the stunt. But he added that in 2011 the local police department spent 70 million rupees ($526,000) to import such sniffer dogs from the Netherlands.

Police also denied that the marriage ceremony sought to offend or demean Sinhalese/Buddhist sentiments. "This did not in any way resemble a poruwa and was simply placed there for the photo opportunity," police said in the statement.

Three-fourths of Sri Lanka's population is Buddhist Sinhalese.