THRISSUR: Have you ever seen the celebration of an elephant’s ‘Sashtipoorthi’? If not, you can come to Guruvayur Sree Krishnan Temple here, the only place in the country where huge cut-outs and flex banners of elephants still greet people.
In a unique function, the Guruvayur Devaswom will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Guruvayur Padmanabhan, the most sought-after elephant in Kerala, on Tuesday with a number of elaborate rituals, marking the rare milestone in the life of an elephant. In fact, the elephant is about 74-years-old now, according to the records available with the Guruvayur Devaswom. But the occasion is being celebrated to mark the completion of its 60th year since it was offered to Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple by M/S EP Brothers, Ottappalm, said Guruvayur Devaswom Managing committee chairman T V Chandramohan.
“So we have decided to commemorate the event as it is the only elephant out of the 57 elephants in the Devaswom elephant yard, which fetches a collection of `2-2.5 lakh as fee for attending a festival in the peak season,” he said. According to the Hindu culture, the age sixty has great significance because it is considered as a turning point in one’s life. At this age, one usually begins his spiritual pursuit after fulfilling worldly commitments. “Here in the elephant’s case too, the Devaswom has decided to give adequate rest to the jumbo and we will send the elephant to only select festivals from this year onwards,” Chandramohan said. It is estimated that around 90 captive elephants in Kerala have crossed the age of 60 and these elephants have to be given adequate rest, said government veterinarian and elephant expert Dr P B Giridas.
Though the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules placed curbs on featuring of elephants that crossed 65 years in festival processions, the age limit has to be lowered to 60 considering the welfare of elephants, he said.