|Elephant carrying the idol, on the temple premises, Kerala nwww.slideshare.ne|
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|Elephants lined up, Vadukanathan temple, Kerala www.slideshare.ne|
Most of temples in Kerala own an elephant or more than that, depending on the size, popularity and the number of temple rituals being followed by them. Most of them are donated by the devotees to the temples in fulfillment of their vow. No other states in India use such a large number of trained elephants for temple rituals and activities almost on a regular basis as Kerala. The cost factor is way high, considering the present inflation index. Kerala temples' festivals are exotic, fascinating and pompous. The procession of deity or deities on the caparisoned elephants is the most captivating sight in Kerala temples, be they dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva or Goddess Sakthi. Such a procession of elephants is not followed in neighboring state Tamil Nadu or Karnataka. This tradition has been there for decades. No doubt, elephants are deeply immortalized and glorified in the literature and lore of ancient Kerala. Kottarathil Sankunni’s work on the foundational myths of elephants has mentioned some legendary status in the temples in the1900s. Though temples take special care of the jumbos, unfortunately there are several reports of poor treatment of such elephants such as prolonged chaining, lack of adequate rest and recognizing the problem of elephants in musth in the winter season that might cause threats to the people.
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Seeveli, the most popular daily ritual, is nothing but a temple procession of deity held on the temple premises in the morning and in the late evening. It is a colorful procession of elephants, wearing gold-plated caparison (nettipattam), bells, necklaces, etc. One of the elephants is carrying the small decorated idol (utshava moorthy) replica of the presiding deity (Moolavar) with temple priest behind it, followed by other elephants to the accompaniments of rhythmic beating of drums and playing of wind instrument - Nadaswaram. The procession will move slowly around the temple clock wise after regular puja. In popular temples, it is done three times in 7 am. 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm. Seeveli procession at night is a spectacular one, involving more than three elephants. Oil lamps in thousands are lit around the outer temple walls in the evening. The most amazing things are, this daily ritual is done with utter commitment and religious fervor. The entire atmosphere is charged with spiritual exhilaration and blissful ecstasy.
|Festival ornamets worn by jumbos, Keralawww.slideshare.ne|
|Varkala,Kerala Elephant procession in the temple under the canopy.alamy.com|
In some temples more than 10 elephants are used for the ceremonial functions in front of the temple. For example at Kudalmanikyam temple, seventeen elephants are used for the daily ceremony to the accomplishment of Pancari Melam Seven elephants wear caparison made of pure gold and the rest wear made of pure silver.
In some places there will be a procession of caparisoned elephants from other temples that gather at a particular place. The number may vary wary and the elephants carry the small idol of the temple
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Mentioned below are some of Hindu festivals of Kerala where participation of elephants is important and they attract very large crowd. Some of the festivals last whole night as well; sound and noise will be fairly high.
Thrissur Pooram (late April or May): Kerala's most famous pooram festival takes place at Vadakkumnathan temple in Thrissur; 30 elephants participate and a percussion ensemble with about 250 artistes.
Arattupuzha Pooram (March or early April): Yet another festival not far from Thrissur; about 60 elephants are displayed with decorations.This pooram, festival, is said to be oldest in the state.
Peruvanam Pooram (March or early April): Elephants participate It is considered to be 1,500 years old. Venue: at the ancient Peruvanam temple, in Cherpu in Thrissur district.
Parippally Gajamela (March): It is held at Kodimoottil Bhagavathy temple at Parippally, in Kerala's Kollam district; an important elephant festival; 50 caparisoned elephants participate.
Chinakkathoor Pooram (March): It is held at rural temple festival at Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy temple in Palappuram, Palakkad district; 33 elephants Participate.
Pariyanampetta Pooram (February): It is seven-day festival at Pariyanampetta Bhagavathy Temple in Kattukulam, Palakkad district. It is called Kalamezhuthu Pattu ritual. It includes a procession of elephants, in particular, on the last day.
Uthralikkavu Pooram (February) : A eight-day festival at Rudhira Mahakali Kavu temple, in Thrissur district's Vadakkancherry; It includes day and night elephant processions, and traditional musical ensembles.The temple is in a remote place, dedicated to Kali.
Elephants are deeply enshrined in the literature and lore of ancient Kerala. Aithihyamala, Kottarathil Sankunni’s compilation of the foundational myths
01. Occasionally trained elephants go wild, run amuck and attack people, it is said that threats occur once in a while and the odds are 20 to one. The main reason is when the male elephants experience musth, a sort of sexual excitement. And to reduce such threats, the temple authorities allow two female elephants walk on both sides of the male elephant.
02. Though temples take special care of the jumbos, unfortunately there are several incisive reports on the poor treatment of temple elephants such as prolonged chaining, lack of adequate rest and recognizing the problem of male elephants in musth in the winter season that might cause threats to the people. Further, the temple elephants have to stand for a pronged time in the midst of din, causing additional stress. They need 350 kg of food and at least 150 liters of water a day. The animal welfare committee is also keeping an eye on them.