Arjuna as howdah elephant; mahout, kavadi in limelight

Arjuna as howdah elephant; mahout, kavadi in limelight

Father-son duo ready to take over the mantle for jamboo savari

Dodda Masti and his son Sannappa have shot into limelight overnight. Call it a blessing in disguise or godsend, the mahout and kavadi respectively of howdah elephant Arjuna are the cynosure of all the eyes.

jumbo happiness: Mahout (right) Dodda Masti and Kavadi Sannappa along with elephant Arjuna on the palace premises in Mysore on Saturday. DH Photo

Joy knew no bounds for father and son duo when they got the news of Arjuna succeeding Balarama the 12-time howdah carrier to shoulder the task, during this jamboo savari on October 24.

Dodda Masti, aged 56, who was initially reluctant opened up later only to say; at last Arjuna has been entrusted with the arduous task. “I am very happy and eagerly awaiting for the day”, asserts Dodda Masti who has finally got his due after completing 32 years of his service in the forest department this year.

He has been its mahout for the past 12 years. However in the case of his 26-year-old son, it’s double delight; it’s his very first year with the forest department, and is Kavadi to none other than howdah elephant.

Blame it on the speculations that was in the air for the past four years, with Arjuna touted as likely successor to Balarama, Dodda Masti was still a nervous mahout when Deccan Herald spotted him.

“Prathi varsha Arjuna horutthe annovru” (Every year it was said that Arjuna will carry the howdah), said Masti in a fretted tone.

Ask about Arjuna’s readiness, pat says Masti; he is fit and healthy and has already proved his mettle again and again carrying wooden howdah successfully till Bannimantap, the end point of jamboo savari.

Though it will be his maiden role as a mahout of howdah elephant, the paraphernalia surrounding Nada Habba is not new to him.

He was still a teenager when he was accompanying the mahouts and kavadis for Dasara during the reign of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar the 25th and last ruler of Mysore kingdom.

“There were veterans (whose names he couldn’t recall in a jiffy) who were sharing their expertise with us juniors”, reminisces Dodda Masti.

That was how he got acclimatised with both; elephants and the people who make Nada Habba complete. He also humbly recalls the mahouts who earlier handled Arjuna- Sannappa and Koosa. It was Sannappa who tamed the jumbo.

For Sannappa (Kavadi) too, Dasara mood is not new. Before joining government services, he was the caretaker of elephants owned by royal scion Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar.

Wish them all the success.

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