Warm send-off accorded for Dasara elephants
Elephants from the jungle camps which shored up Mysuru Dasara with their presence and took part in the famed Jamboo Savari, were accorded a ceremonial send-off from the palace on Sunday.
Special prayers were held for their collective welfare and safe return next year besides felicitations to the mahouts and kavadis or assistants manning the elephants.
The elephants led by howdah elephant Abhimanyu lined up for the send-off and a priest chanted hymns and performed ‘mangalarathi’to them. Prayers over, the elephants received plantains, jaggery and munched on them unmindful of the surrounding crowd which took selfies.
Senior Forest Department officials including Deputy Conservators of Forest Karikalan, Mayor Sunanda Palanethra and others were present.
Though it is customary to bring 12 to 14 elephants for Dasara, only 8 elephants took part in this year’s edition of the festival which was scaled down due to the pandemic. Abhimanyu, who was the cynosure of all eyes during the Jamboo Savari which took place within the palace precincts, left for Mathigodu camp along with Gopalaswamy.
Elephants Chaitra and Lakshmi were sent to Ramapura camp while Dhananjaya, Kaveri and Vikrama returned to Dubare elephant camp. The 34 year-old Ashwathama, who made his debut during this year’s Nada Habba, was sent to Dodda Harave camp.
Before the elephants were herded to their respective trucks, scores of people from the city who had gathered to see-off the pachyderms received an opportunity to witness them from close quarters apart from posing for photographs in front of them. The photo session entailing elephant in the foreground and the palace in the background, stretched for sometime after which Mr. Karikalan handed over cash to the mahouts and their assistants for the successful and smooth conduct of the festivities in which the elephants presence was a major attraction.
Mr. Karikalan said each mahout and his assistant received ₹10,000 in appreciation of their work.
Once the elephants are back in their respective camps, they tend to rest for a few days and are back on other forest-related duties, mainly jungle patrol, said Mr. Karikalan. Abhimanyu and Vikrama are used for combing operations or to catch other marauding wild elephants while the rest take part in the regular patrolling exercise conducted by the Forest Department.
Incidentally, the elephants are not released for other ceremonial events.