monkey problems


The battle between Delhiites and their monkeys has been going on for some time now. As frustrated Delhiites look for solutions, others are trying to understand the reasons behind the increase in monkeys and monkey chutzpah. Loss of habitat due to the vast expansion of the city is one. What now belongs to the streets once belonged to the monkeys. Others point out that the Hindu citizens of New Delhi have been feeding the monkeys on Tuesdays and Saturdays even as they complain about them on other days of the week. They do this to honor Hanuman, the monkey god and a symbol of strength and devotion. (Ironically, the langurs that have been employed to intimidate Delhi’s monkeys are called “Hanuman langurs.”) Authorities plead with Delhiites and threaten them with fines in the hope that this will curb the wanton public feeding of the monkeys. But it is to no avail. A few years back, food collection centers to regulate monkey feeding were set up near Hanuman temples. The collection boxes remained empty. It was not enough for Hanuman worshipers to know the monkeys would be fed in their honor. For it is the direct relationship between human and monkey that makes the act of worship meaningful. A spokesperson for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi told the Indo-Asian News Service that “religious sentiment” was the campaign’s biggest challenge.

more from Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set here.