Grooming Dasara elephants

Acclimatisation

Grooming Dasara elephants

Familiarisation: A mounted policeman taking a horse near to Dasara elephant at Palace premises . DH photo

It’s 8.30 am in the morning. The Dasara elephants camping at the North-East of the Palace premises would have just returned from their daily walk or practice session.

 The mahouts and Kavadis bring these elephants to the pond for a fresh bath and to quench their thirst.

Even as the pachyderms have their field day in water, their one and half-month stay in the town is characterised with acclimatisation and familiarising with their job and things around. One of their best friends besides the mahouts and Kavadis during their sojourn are the horses belonging to the mounted police department. Both depart from each other for a year and reunion for the special occasion called Dasara. To avoid any untoward incidents or either of the animals getting into panic mode during the Jamboo Savari, the two animals are familiarised with each other to see that there are no behavioural troubles when the two animals come close walking alongside each other on the Vijayadashami day.

Mariba Shetty, Commandant of the Mounted Police told City Herald that the horses are made to interact with the elephants by bringing both the animals closer. “It is done so that both do not scare each other. In olden days(maharaja’s period), elephants were given grasses to feed the horses. The jumbos would lift the grass from their trunks and give it to horses,” he recalled quoting the seniors and books on animal behaviour.

The elephants are not just familiarised with the procession route and friendly behaviour with the horses, they are also acclimatised to canon fires for there tradition to fire 21 canons when the Chief Minister offers flowers to Goddess Chamundeshwari on the tenth and concluding day of Dasara, which kickstarts the biggest cultural pageant of the State. It is a mark of respected offered to the deity goddess Chamundeshwari. As the Vijayadashami approaches, canon fires are lit in front of the elephants so that the jumbos do not panic when canons are fired during the procession.

“The Dasara elephants are so well groomed to the annual affair that they can be normal even if there is no practice or acclimatisation for them. But, we cannot take any risk. They are given training and familiarised to the situation before the grand finale of the Dasara celebrations,” senior mahout Sannappa says.

The howdah elephant Balarama undergoes a special grooming as it has to carry the golden howdah weighing 750 kilos. During the daily practice on the procession route, it is burdened with sand bags starting from 400 kilos. The weight is gradually increased to 750 kilos.

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