COLOMBO - Sri Lanka's cultural affairs ministry has taken strong exception to a mass "wedding" of police dogs, which used symbols of traditional Buddhist nuptials on the Indian Ocean island.
Culture Minister T.B. Ekanayake demanded an explanation for Monday's ceremony in central Sri Lanka, which was intended to promote a programme to breed more sniffer dogs.
Police "married" nine pairs of dogs on a platform decked with white cloth and flowers symbolic of a traditional marriage ceremony. The brides were decked in mittens, shawls and hats while the grooms wore fancy neckties and shawls.
"Using hallowed national traditions at a dog show must be condemned with contempt," the minister told the state-run Dinamina daily. "They have devalued the (traditional) poruwa (wedding) ritual."
Police spokesman Buddhika Siriwardena said the police department regretted any offence caused to the cultural sensibilities of the population, which is 75 percent ethnic Sinhalese and Buddhist.
"The department wishes to express its deep regret over this matter," he said.
Constables served milk rice and cake to some 2,000 invitees and 20 police dogs attended the ceremony in the town of Kandy.
The dog couples were driven off in a police van to the hill resort of Nuwara Eliya for their "honeymoon".