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BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - An infant boy was married off to his neighbors' dog in eastern India by villagers who said it will stop the groom from being killed by wild animals, officials and witnesses said Wednesday.
Around 150 tribespeople performed the ritual recently in a hamlet in the state of Orissa's Jajpur district after the boy, who is under two years old, grew a tooth on his upper gum.
The Munda tribe see such a growth in young children as a bad omen and believe it makes them prone to attacks by tigers and another animals. The tribal god will bless the child and ward off evil spirits after the marriage.
"We performed the marriage because it will overcome any curse that might fall on the child as well on us," the boy's father, Sanarumala Munda, was quoted as saying by a local newspaper.
The groom, Sagula, was carried by his family in procession to the village temple, where a priest solemnized the marriage between Sagula and his bride Jyoti by chanting Sanskrit hymns, a witness said.
The villagers then ate a feast with rich food and alcohol to celebrate.
The dog belongs to the groom's neighbors and was set free to roam around the area after the ceremony. No dowry was exchanged, the witness said, and the boy will still be able to marry a human bride in the future without filing for divorce.
Indian law does not recognize weddings between people and animals, but the ritual survives in rural and tribal areas of the country where millions are illiterate.
Editing by Matthias Williams