Gajapayana begins amid fanfare

Last Updated 07 September 2012, 17:01 IST

Gajapayana, the beginning of the journey of elephants for Dasara festivities in Mysore, started at Nagapura on Friday afternoon amid much fanfare. S A Ramdas, the minister in-charge of Mysore district, offered pooja to four decorated elephants bound for the State’s cultural capital.

This year the venue was changed from Veeranahosalli (inside Nagarahole forest) to Ashrama School at the Nagapura Tribal Rehabilitation Centre in Hunsur taluk because of a recent Supreme Court order banning all non-forest activity inside forest area.

Only one female elephant — Vijaya —  took part in the Gajapayana, as the remaining four are nursing their new born calves.

Vijaya was accompanied by her mahout Boja and kavadi (mahout’s assistant) Putta.

Elephant Balarama, who is scheduled to carry the golden howdah during the Dasara procession for the 13th year, was accompanied by his mahout Thimma, who was elevated from kavadi, after mahout Sannappa retired last year.

Balarama’s kavadi is Gacha. 52-year-old elephant Arjuna, who carried the howdah on one occasion, was accompanied by his mahout Doddamasti and kavadi Sannappa.

Elephant Abhimanyu, who draws an orchestra on the famed Anegaadi, was manned by mahout Vasantha and kavadi Raju.

Balarama and Abhimanyu arrived from their Thithimathi camp on Thursday night in preparation for the ceremony. Arjuna and Vijay arrived later from Balle and Dubare camps, respectively.

Tribals from six units under the Nagapura centre and Tibetans refugees in the region actively took part in the event. Jaggery and sugarcane were offered to the elephants and flowers were showered with nadaswaram music in the background.

Folk artistes performed kamsale, veeragase and beat drums. The traditional Poorna kunbha welcome was given to dignitaries, though most invitees remained absent.

Students of Ashrama School performed various cultural programmes including a dance after the ceremony.

Ramdas gave Rs 500 to each of the students who danced as a token of appreciation from his Aasare Foundation. Mahouts and kavadis were also offered phala-thambula (fruits and betel leaves) for accepting to participate in the Dasara festivities.

The elephants were mounted on trucks to be transported to Mysore and reached the Aranya Bhavan in the city the same night. Two more elephants — Gajendra and Srirama — will join them Saturday directly from the K Gudi camp.

(Published 07 September 2012, 17:01 IST)

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