As I was taking in the beauty and splendor of The Taj Mahal in the gray, early light of dawn, I felt something move past my right foot.
I looked down to see a lone Reese’s monkey slowly strolling away from me and hopping up on a nearby rail. He looked over at me as I carefully yet excitedly raised my iPhone camera up to get the shot. He gave me a very calm, knowing look as if to say, “Yeah, I’m pretty photogenic. Go ahead.”
The animals of India know they are safe.
Cattle randomly roam the streets, often crossing busy roads and even freeways, causing traffic to come to a complete stop while they pass. Dogs rest in cool dirt holes or shady areas anywhere from under lush park trees to inside UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Even the upright, poised cobras in woven baskets pretending to be under a musical spell seemed to sigh when tapped on the nose to remind them to pose for a tourist’s camera.
Hinduism calls for the treatment of all living beings with great respect, believing all are aspects of God that have souls of their own. And the many peoples of India appear to have adopted this attitude.
Our driver Ramesh told us that he feeds the monkeys at one particular location out of respect for Hanuman (God of Strength and Knowledge) and because he believes that monkeys are here to bring us joy.
There was no denying the joy on my husband’s face as Ramesh threw bananas out of our car window and the monkeys came with their tiny babies on their backs, tumbling over each other to get a sweet banana.
Feeding them and respecting them is a small price to pay for the joy they bring to us.￼