Elephants are the vital part of temple festivals in Kerala. They are used as a tribute to the God and are major attractions during these festivals. Most of the elephants are kept in captivity. The abuse and isolation that they have to face have been a much-debated topic.
But Nalapathenneeswaram Sree Mahadeva Temple in Cherthala, situated in Alappuzha district has decided to go against the tides as they said that they will replace elephants with wooden structures.
The temple authorities said that they would use ‘jeevatha’, a wooden structure widely used in temples of Central Travancore to mount the idols of deities during the festival this year, as reported by Deccan Chronicle. “As Devaswom proclaimed last year in a cultural meet, it was decided to remove the elephant parade this year. The jeevathas will be introduced instead. The fund set aside for elephant parade will be used for the welfare of the temple and the local people,” said a public notice.
“I personally like to watch the elephant parade. However, I respect the Devaswom’s decision as the parade poses a huge risk. We have seen many incidents of elephant fury in Cherthala. I think this will be replicated in other temples,” said K.S. Sreekumari, a local resident to Deccan Chronicle.
The seven day annual festival in Nalapathenneeswaram Sree Mahadeva Temple will commence on February 18.
Using elephants during temple festivals is a widely practised tradition in God’s own country. But Kanichukulangara Devi Temple in Alappuzha district had set the first example of discontinuing the practice. They had announced that men who had undergone a fast of 40 days would carry the ‘jeevathas’.
Elephants in Kerala festivals
The state exhibits elephants during festivals, especially during Thrissur Pooram, exposing them to loud fireworks and making them stand on the hot tar road. The famous Guruvayur temple has more than 60elephants. World’s only Elephant Palace is constructed at Punnathur Kotta. Elephants carry the deity during temple festivals. People and temples own around 700 elephants, and they are rented out for more than 10,000 festivals and processions.