THRISSUR: Shouts of ‘Rama Rama’ rented the air when 54-year-old jumbo Thechikottukavu Ramachandran arrived at Thekkinkadu Maidan on Sunday morning for the ceremonial Vilambaram procession.
All eyes were on the jumbo, including those of its chief mahout Vinod A K Thrikariyoor, who was on the lookout for any signs of discomfort in the elephant.
The reason was simple. Vinod and his teammates, Nidheesh, Sudheesh and Sharon, knew the safety of the thousands of people who were gathered on the temple premises was of utmost importance and solely rested on their shoulders.
Ever since the issue regarding the fitness of the elephant – considered rouge after it killed seven people – was raised by the authorities concerned for allowing it to participate in Thrissur Pooram, Vinod had been confident about his elephant. His only concern was Ramachandran had not been outside amidst people for the past 90 days.
“He (Ramachandran) has been calm and obedient. However, we were tensed because he has been branded as rouge and one wrong move will prove really risky. Still, we had confidence in him as he had been behaving properly. We reposed faith in him and brought him for the Pooram,” Vinod said.
The fact that, as per rules, the owner is held responsible if any elephant misbehaves added to the mahouts’ pressure.
It was after a thorough checkup by a team of veterinary doctors that District Collector T V Anupama granted permission to parade the tusker for the ceremonial job, something he has been doing since 2014.
Vinod has been with Ramachandran for the past couple of years. The tusker was brought to Sree Vadakkumnathan temple here in a lorry as against the practice of parading him along the 6-km stretch between Thechikottukavu and the temple.
When the jumbo returned to Thechikottukavu after wrapping up the day’s task, hundreds of people were seen waiting to greet it and catch its glimpse. A few had even brought watermelons and fruits to feed the jumbo with their own hands.