Friday, 17 January 2014

Temple Says ‘no’ to Tuskers, Will More Follow Suit

Kochi: In a departure from tradition, the Dakshina Mookambika Temple in Paravoor near Kochi has decided not to parade elephants during the festival beginning January 25 on the plea of animal welfare activists.

The first temple under the  Travancore Devaswom  Board to leave jumbos out of a festival, it will instead use use a rath (chariot) at the ezhunnallethu, says G. Narayanan, secretary of the temple’s festival committee. The decision of the committee, taken on Wednesday, will have to be ratified by the tantri and the Devaswom commissioner.                  
“When the issue of elephants came up for discussion , we thought we should stop the practice and set an example for temples says nearby. The Kollur Mookambika temple uses a rath for its festival, so we thought why shouldn’t we do the same,” he adds.

The practice of parading elephants, which was restricted to a few temples in Kerala till the 1970s, spread to others following an increase in jumbo trafficking to the state from the north east of the country.

Since then parading elephants has become a matter of pride for many temples, which willingly shell out the Rs 1 lakh or more required to do so even for a day. The government, however, recently ordered temples to restrict the number of elephants used in parades to three in view of the rising incidents of the animals going on a rampage on these occasions.

But with the Paravoor temple deciding to go further and give up their use altogether, it has received much praise from animal welfare activists. Secretary of the  Heritage Animal Task Force, V. K. Venkatachalam calls it “ a praiseworthy decision.

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