Balarama to carry howdah this year too


 With this, the Forest Department has laid to rest all speculations about finding a successor to Balarama, who has been carrying the golden howdah for the last ten years.

Rumours were rife that Balarama would be relieved from the prestigious duty of carrying the golden howdah, in which the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is seated on Jumbo Savari Day.

It was also said that either Jayaprakash (a tusker presently housed in Bandipur National Park) or Vanaraja (another tusker of Bannerghatta National Park) would be selected for the job.

Well-behaved

However, the forest officials are of the opinion that Balarama is strong enough to carry the golden howdah. Hence, there is no proposal whatsoever before the department to look out for an elephant - at least for this year.

Balarama has been the most ‘mature’ and ‘well-behaved’ tusker - ideal qualities for an elephant carrying the golden howdah during the precession from Mysore Palace premises to Bannimantap Grounds.

The officials told Deccan Herald that even if s successor is picked, the elephant will have to undergo training for at least 3-4 years.

Subsequently, it will be included in the herd of elephants that will accompany the howdah-carrying elephant, just to observe its behaviour and reaction to a variety of sounds on the Jumboo Savari day. Initially, the selected tuskers are given the task of carrying the ‘Nishana’ of the Wadiyar dynasty. The elephant will be considered for carrying the howdah only after the department is satisfied with its behaviour.

Dr Nagaraj, a veterinarian who has been observing Balarama since 1999, told Deccan Herald that although the elephant is 51 years, he is still physically fit to carry the golden howdah, which weighs around 750 kg. “Balarama is one of the prized possessions of the department due to its cool temperament and behaviour in a procession.”

Though Balarama is still capable of discharging his duty for some more years, he suggested the forest department find alternatives.

As of now they have got ‘Arjuna’ who had the experience of carrying the golden howdah once, he said. 

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