Elephants in Kerala temples

From Indpaedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hindi English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Thrissur pooram

The Times of India, Apr 23 2016

In Kerala temple fest, an inhuman parade of tortured, blind jumbos

Malini Nair

Several elephants with injuries, and a few that were fully or par tially blind, were made to participate at the annual Thrissur pooram, allege animal activists.

“The elephants had injuries on their feet where they are chained -in some cases the feet appeared to have been tied together -as well as their backs. And despite the rules, they brought visually impaired elephants into the procession,“ says MN Jayachandran, member, Animal Welfare Board, who was part of the official inspection team that monitored the animals at festival.

According to a 2013 state government circular, elephants cannot be made to stand in peak afternoon hours in the open, must be fed water at regular intervals and not paraded more than three hours at a time.“With the pageant continuing over 36 hours, every single rule is flouted at the pooram,“ says Jayachandran.

The packed festival season in 2016, and an exceptionally fiery April, has been particularly distressing for the state's elephants. Over the last three months, seven captive elephants have caused eight deaths in the state.Of these, five incidents were reported during temple festivities. The heat, the crowds, the fireworks and drums create an extremely uncomfortable situation for the pachyderms.

Take the example of Venattumattom Unnikuttan, 21: he doesn't know it but he is on forced leave from work.That meant, till about a fortnight ago, trudging miles on scorching tarred roads every day and standing for hours at temples, often without food, water and rest. After an exhausting stint at a temple festival in Thiruvananthapuram earlier this month, he had resisted being dragged into a canal for a bath and was, according to locals, beaten for being “stubborn“.That blistering afternoon, he finally trampled his mahout to death.

Just two days later, Channanik kad Ayyppan went on an outraged stampede in Kottayam, killing his two handlers. Last Tuesday , an elephant resting after a tiring temple procession at Killimanur nearly killed a selfie enthusiast.

“These festival duties are really stressful for the elephants. At the annual Thrissur pooram for instance, they are made to stand with three to four people atop, no food or water for up to 10 hours,“ says V K Venkitachalam, secretary of the Thrissur-based Heritage Animal Task Force, who has been battling the abuse of the captive jumbos for decades now.

The state's chief forest conservator had asked that elephants put to work at the Thrissur pooram not be paraded between 10am and 5pm and after 8pm, and also that they be positioned at a distance of 3 metres from each other. But the mighty temple boards flexed their political muscle and went into a sulk declaring that they would reduce the much-loved festivities to a one-elephant procession. That was all it took for the state's forest minister to demand that the order be withdrawn.

Not just temples, churches and mosques too are increasingly using elephants to up the pomp quotient.And tuskers are not an uncommon sight at various launches, weddings and mega events either.

Personal tools