TIRUMALA: The Lord of Seven Hills might get an ‘Iravatham’ (sacred white elephant), if the efforts of Anant Ambani, son of RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani, who wishes to donate the rare light skinned pachyderm, are successful.
Anant, an ardent devotee of Lord Balaji, had visited the Tirumala hill shrine twice in a gap of four days, last week. During his first visit on May 6, he visited Srivari Goshala and spent some time with Jyothi and Padmavati, the elephants in service of Lord Venkateswara, before leaving for Mumbai.
Again, he visited the hill shrine on May 9 and had inquired about the elephants, their condition, maintenance and other related issues. He discussed his desire to donate a rare pachyderm to Lord Balaji, which are found in South East Asian region, particularly in Thailand. The discussion took place between him and Tirumala chief priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu Anant. He had even gifted some birds to temple’s chief priest during his recent visit.
Offering of elephants is not a new tradition in Tirumala temple. When Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister for the first time in 1991, she donated one elephant. Similarly, H D Deve Gowda gave one elephant to the temple when he became the Prime Minister in 1996. In 1999, the Karantaka government gifted one elephant to the temple. Tirumala Tiruapti Devasthanams (TTD), the chief custodian of Lord Venkateswara, is in need for three more elephants, as the existing six elephants are becoming overworked. According to Goshala sources, the existing elephants have to work in shifts every day. They are used some six to seven times during temple rituals on daily basis. On every Friday, they escort the priests in bringing sacred water from Akasha Ganga for Abhishekam of Lord Venkateswara.
Further, they are sent to other TTD temples in Tirupati, Tiruchanoor and Srinivasa Managapuram during rituals like annual Brahmotsavams and others. On government’s direction, the TTD had even sent the elephants to Srikalahasti during Mahashivaratri festival recently. Given the workload, the TTD requires three more elephants.
The TTD chairman’s office staff were approached with the request for the details of existing elephants, procedures to donate animals to the TTD, facilities for animals at the TTD and other requirements.
When contacted SV Dairy Farm director K Harinath Reddy admitted receiving such a request from the TTD chairman’s office seeking details about the procedures for animal donation. “The chairman’s office staff obtained information from us about requirement of the elephants apart from bulls and horses,” he said.