THRISSUR: As the fate of this year’s Thrissur Pooram hangs in balance, the centre of the controversy is one of the most revered elephants of Kerala. It is partially blind after his mahout struck on his left eye with an iron-hooked stick decades ago. It has killed as many as 14 people so far.
Yet, Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, the 55-year-old jumbo has a fan following that rivals film stars, especially in central Kerala where captive elephants are still a feudal status symbol of the festival venues. What is more, the entire state is now divided over Thechikottu Kavu Ramachandran after the state government denied permission to feature the elephant in Thrissur Pooram after it killed two women recently during a private programme.
On the one side, the Thrissur district administration is determined to not feature the elephant in Thrissur Pooram. On the other hand, the jumbo owners have upped their ante against the authorities saying they would boycott Thrissur Pooram by not sending elephants for the festivals from Saturday. The social media is crying foul over the reported absence of the ‘superstar’ elephant in the Thrissur Pooram, despite his notoriety.
He was put behind the bars of Kodanad elephant shelter after he struck down three women at a temple festival at Rayamangalam near Kochi in 2013. Yet, he is still a superstar among the elephants in Kerala. According to Elephant Owners’ Federation general secretary V Sasikumar, a meeting convened during the first week of April in the presence of two ministers had assured the jumbo owners that there would not be any ban on the elephant. However, authorities went back from their word and banned it over some freak mishaps. “We would not cooperate with the festivals if the ban exists as other elephants would have to face the same situation. We have to be careful to avoid a similar situation and banning elephants will not serve the purpose,” he said.
Sujith Thiriyadan, secretary of ‘Koottu Kombanmar,’ an outfit which works for the welfare of elephants and mahouts, said “we are saddened by the developments related to Ramachandran. We wish to see him in all its glory than any controversy, he said.
Ban on shoes inside temple sought
Thrissur: Bharatheeya Sevashramam, a cultural and political organisation based here, demanded a ban on wearing shoes inside Sree Vadakkumnathan temple compound during Thrissur Pooram. Swami Nirmalandanda, spiritual leader of the organisation said as per practice, devotees were not allowed to wear shoes inside the compound wall. “During pooram days, public enter the temple premises wearing chappals. It should be prohibited. When VIPs are visiting the temples, the security measures are followed as per protocol, despite the crowd who visit,” he said.
Thrissur dist admn to hold mock drill
The district administration will conduct a mock drill on Thursday at Nandhanam auditorium in Thiruvambady Devaswom building in connection with Thrissur Pooram. District Collector T V Anupama will lead the mock drill in which State Disaster Management Authority officers, assistant district magistrate, Disaster Management deputy collector, revenue district officer, city police commissioner, NDRF personnel and others will be present.
Forest Minister sets record straight
Forest and Wildlife Minister K Raju said at a press conference here: “Our officer had sent a letter to the committee headed by the Thrissur District Collector that parading Thechikottukavu Ramachandran at the pooram is ‘undesirable’. It was a letter and not an order.” “The warden had clearly cited the reasons. The elephant is partially blind. The parading of the elephant is not outrightly denied even at present,” he said.