PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, stirred up a controversy when it put up a post on Twitter saying that the use of horses in wedding ceremonies, a staple in marriages across large parts of India, is “abusive and cruel”. Indian Twitter users were enraged at the animal rights organisation’s comment on a long-held custom in Hindu and Sikh households.

The tweet, by PETA India, said: “Using horses at wedding ceremonies is abusive and cruel”. Soon, Indians started slamming PETA for their position with several Twitter users calling the group 'anti-India and anti-Hindu'.

Avinash MK, a Twitter user, underlined: “Dear PETA, we are not killing horses at wedding ceremonies.” Another user, slammed PETA for what he claimed was hyprocrisy on the part of the animal rights group because it did not criticise riding horses for polo and races or policing.

PETA on the other hand said that spiked bits are torture devices that can injure horses. Radhika Suryavanshi, senior campaign coordinator of PETA India told Indiatimes, “Spiked bits are torture devices that can injure and traumatize horses for live. PETA India is asking couples to have a heart for horses and leave them out of their wedding day celebrations.”

Spiked bits are metal devices embedded deep into mouths of animals to maintain control over them. They are composed of two small, hinged metal cylinders covered with spikes (or sharp spirals) that are attached to the mouth. Spiked bits are intended to cut into the horse’s lips and tongue when the reins are pulled and the use of the devices is illegal under rule 8 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules of 1965.

Irrespective, PETA’s stance, which some believed was a criticism of Indian customs did not go down well with many.

PETA started its campaign against use of horses in wedding ceremonies in September, ahead of the wedding season. The group started alerting the public to the cruel practice of using spiked bits to control horses.

Aside from this tweet on horses, PETA also tagged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asking him to follow the example set by the European Parliament and phase out animal experiments.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was established in 1980 in the United States. A non-profit animal rights group, PETA claims to have 9 million members and supporters across the globe.