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|by Kiran Tagare|
Long back when I was in Kerala, I had a chance to visit Guruvayur temple. The temple authorities have elephants in their possession. Once a year, these animals are decorated with gold ornaments and necklaces for the annual procession of the deity. They are well taken care of on the huge ground at the back of the temple, about three kilometres away. It’s a tourist place. Tourists can watch these big animals, being bathed and fed by their mahouts (elephant trainers).
When I visited this place and was just leisurely strolling around as an onlooker, these 13–14-foot giants weighing about 25,000 pounds were being taken to the washing and cleaning sheds for their daily ablutions.
I was surprised and confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front legs. No heavy iron chains, nor any protective gear. It was obvious that the elephant could, at any time, grab the mahout in its trunk and throw him away, crashing away from the ropes it was tied to. I got chills. But none of the elephants did any such things. They were pretty calm, marching towards their marked area. I saw a mahout nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals were quiet and made no attempt to get away.
Images (c) istock.com
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