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Saturday, March 1, 2014

the affable mammoths ..... not to be paraded in Republic Day !!!

My love for mammoth pachyderms knows no bounds… in my young age, I was so fascinated by Alwar, the mighty yet very submissive Azhwar probably never misbehaved.  The gigantic one would be bathed, decorated with thiruman on its forehead and would accompany perumal purappadu. At the end of the purappadu have seen Azhwar offering ‘saamaram’ to Perumal and would walk backwards. It used to carry sacred water (Thirumanjana kudam) from the temple tank, being taken in a procession every morning. The feeding of the elephant was a much watched event. The mahout used to give it large round balls of rice cake with jaggery, made in the temple. When it came around in streets, people used to offer bananas, jaggery, and sugarcane – it would also eat branches of tree. There were other reports that it was tamed so much that it would happily drink coffee from nearby Vaitha hotel as also take things like kadalai urundai. Triplicanites mourned the  passing away of affable Azhwar in 1977.

‘Nalla Neram’ released in 1972, a MGR starrer alongside KR Vijaya was directed by M.A. Thirumugam was a remake of  Hindi film Haathi Mere Saathi by Rajesh Khanna.  It was about Raju's choice between love (his wife) and friendship (his loyal and devoted pet elephants).

the adored elephants of Punathurthotta - Guruvayur


Visitors to Kerala would be too thrilled to see big and powerful tusker walking on the road and sometimes being carried in trucks…  Elephants are majestic and tuskers with their height and beautiful white ivory tusks captivate….  I have posted earlier on one of the most valued mammoths, reportedly the second tallest elephant in Asia-  1964 born - Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, owned by Thrissur Thechikkottukavu Peramangalthu Devaswom.  This star elephant was in news for wrong reasons. It became perhaps be the first elephant in the country to be charged with murder and released on bail, in a case related to the death of three women after he ran amok at a temple festival in Perumbavoor.   The Devaswom which owns 45-year-old Ramachandran, had to submit a bond of Rs 30 lakh and surety of two persons to secure his bail.

Sadly, over the World, the tusks & teeth of elephants – are its enemy – as they get killed for ivory.  Ivory consists of dentine, a tissue that is similar to bone. It has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes and joint tubes. Ivory has many ornamental and practical uses. Prior to the introduction of plastics, it was used for billiard balls, piano keys, Scottish bagpipes, buttons and a wide range of ornamental items.  Whether it is costly or useful ~ it looks good on an elephant and is its body part, not an ornamental piece meant for your display………….

Now this post is more of the report on the decision of the Central Government.  The Republic Day Parade is a grand and pompous event.   At Delhi, apart from the parade armed forces, police and other forces;  display of various tanks, missiles and other equipment added to the arsenal of the military,  vibrant parade comprising tableaux from different States and cultural dances;  - children who have won National Bravery Awards ride past the spectators on colourfully decorated elephants – all are watched by the citizens of India. The Republic Day Parade is concluded by dare devil motor cycle riding and a flypast by Indian Air Force fighter jets over Rajpath, as spectators look on with their hearts filled with pride.


Now comes the news of Govt decision to stop using elephants in the RD Parade.  Times of India reports that setting a new model for the welfare of captive elephants, the central government has decided against using elephants for Republic Day parades.  The 40-year-old practice of parading bravery award winners atop elephants has been scrapped after safety concerns were raised by the national zoological park and wildlife institute of India. The ministry of defence in reply to an RTI query said that proposal to discontinue elephants for the national bravery award function had been stopped due to logistic and safety issues. The defence ministry said that there was a huge safety issue involved, as, if the elephants run amok most sedatives work only after 20 minutes. The defence PIO said that as an alternative the Army would carry children in appropriately decorated military jeeps.

Animal rights activists welcomed this order and said that all states should follow this model and put a cap on elephant parades.  There have been reports on some occasions of elephants running amok and even killing people including its mahouts… but they have been few and far between………… as one would argue, in any other case, has there been a solitary incident even when any elephant had misbehaved in a Republic Day Parade ?  Sad to read that they would no longer be on show, carrying those brave children

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1st Mar 2013.

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