A couple rides an elephant at the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Chonburi province, Thailand. Reuters
Fifty-two couples in Thailand got married while riding elephants on Sunday, in an annual Valentine's Day mass wedding ceremony at a botanical garden in a province east of Bangkok.
Dancers and a band led the procession of elephants and couples and a local official, also on an elephant, oversaw the signing of the marriage licence.
"For me, I've been planning for a long time that if I were to sign a marriage licence one day, it must be an extraordinary event," said groom Patiphat Panthanon, 26, sitting beside his 23-year-old bride.
The elephant-back wedding is an annual event at the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Chonburi province which usually attracts up to a hundred couples. But this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the numbers were down.
Kampon Tansacha, managing director of the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, said that due to strict screening protocols for visitors, people were feeling safer and have started to come back to visit the botanical park, which showcases recreations of landscaped gardens from around the world.
Thailand's tourism-reliant country has yet to lift a travel ban imposed last April to curb the outbreak, keeping most foreign investors away.
Turkey has 600,000 weddings annually. Contracts for their organisation are concluded months in advance and often involve sums equal to households' yearly incomes.
In Indian-controlled Kashmir, the coronavirus pandemic within months has changed an elaborate and lavish marriage tradition that had remained virtually unaltered for centuries.
Thailand first proposed the idea in June to allow movement between select countries that have low infection numbers, without the need for travellers to undergo quarantine.
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