The pathfinder for pachyderms

The pathfinder for pachyderms

Mahouts magic

THE FAITHFUL: Pasha, son Mansur along with Balarama, at the procession. DH Photo

Seven elephants took part in the seven-kilometre march from Veera Soudha to the district stadium. Scorching sun and blaring sounds in the procession could have well driven the jumbos to go amuck, particularly Balarama.

Thanks to the precautions taken by Pasha, the elephants behaved themselves throughout.

To keep the animals hydrated, Pasha ensured that they were fed with diet rich in rice, coconut and jaggery at regular intervals. Balarama alone was fed three kilos of glucose.

Limited rehearsal

“The situation here was quite different from that of Dasara. We rehearse elephants for 45 to 53 days for Dasara whereas there was only three days’ time for this procession.
Even the stretch was too long compared to the Dasara route,” 65-year-old Pasha said.
His strategy to accompany Balarama with two ‘kumkis’ (Krishna and Sudharani) worked well.

Pasha said the situation turned critical when the jumbos were stopped at Kittur Rani Chennamma Circle to facilitate arrival of film stars and the chief minister.

It was a testing time as elephants were made to wait for over an hour and the spectators went to the extent of going in between the elephants’ legs.

Association with Rajkumar

A third generation mahout, Pasha, recalled his brief association with Kaannda thespian Rajkumar during the shooting for the film ‘Gandhada Gudi’. He remembered the veteran actor riding an elephant in the jungles of Kakanakote during the shooting.

A kavadi (assistant mahout) at that time, Pasha said Rajkumar was very fond of jumbos and curious to know their nature and behaviour.

“Several elephants - Kokila, Bharatha, Lalitha, Pankaja, Rajendra and Kalpana - acted in the film. Kalpana was my favourite.”

Pasha had a suggestion for the organisers - seating arrangements should have been made as in Mysore Dasara to prevent people risking their lives in the event of jumbos going berserk.