KOCHI: The order issued by the chief wildlife warden, banning parading of elephants from 10 am to 4 pm, in view of the intense summer heat, has rattled the temple managements and festival organisers in the state.
As per the order, district-level monitoring committees should ensure no elephant is paraded under the open sky or transported in open vehicles during the above period.
The season of festivals is in full swing and most of them are conducted during day time. As elephants will not be able to bear the summer heat, it will turn violent and run amok, said Heritage Animal Task Force secretary V K Venkitachalam.
The annual festival at Sabarimala is in progress and an elephant has been brought to the hill shrine, which will be paraded for rituals from March 15 t0 21.
TDB to approach Forest Department
As part of the Arattu procession at Sabarimala temple on March 21, an elephant will carry Lord Ayyappa’s Sreebali idol to Pampa in the morning and return afternoon. Activists have already approached Pathanamthitta District Collector demanding to stop using elephant for the ritual.
“It’s impossible to avoid rituals. The board meeting on Thursday will discuss the issue and we’ll approach the Forest Department seeking relaxation,” Travancore Devaswom Board member K P Sankar Das told Express.
“As Sabarimala temple is located in the forest, there can be relaxation in the order. We’ve no objection to parading the elephant if they provide a shelter. We’ll discuss the issue and find a solution,” said Conservator of Forests (Social Forestry) M S Jayaraman.
Meanwhile, the ban order is expected to affect the conduct of major festivals in Kerala like Thirunakkara Pakal Pooram in Kottayam, Kollam Pooram and Thrissur Pooram, where around 50 elephants are paraded annually. However, the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation has welcomed the order.
“This will help avoid incidents of elephants running amok during festivals,” said federation general secretary P Sasikumar.
The District Collectors should issue magisterial orders to reschedule elephant parades to avoid violation of the order, said Venkitachalam.
Six elephants have killed five mahouts and two senior citizens during festivals this year. As many as three elephants have died in Kerala at festival places during first two months of 2019.
“It is high time the order is implemented to save the lives of captive elephants, devotees and general public at festival places,” he said.