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Elephants heave a sigh of relief due to lockdown during temple festivals season in Kerala

Last Updated : 10 April 2020, 02:27 IST
Last Updated : 10 April 2020, 02:27 IST
Last Updated : 10 April 2020, 02:27 IST
Last Updated : 10 April 2020, 02:27 IST

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If there is one section that is quite happy with the lockdown owing to COVID-19, it could be the 500 odd captive elephants of Kerala.

March-April months used to be the peak season of temple festivals in Kerala and elephants are an integral part of the festival. Despite the scorching summer, elephants used to be paraded for kilometres, often flouting the animal welfare norms. Several incidents of elephants running amok, sometimes even claiming lives, used to be reported in Kerala during this season every year.

However, owing to the lockdown about 1,000 temple festivals of Kerala had been called off. Thrissur Pooram, a major festival where around 30 odd elephants used to be paraded at a time in Thirssur, which is scheduled to be held on May 3, is also likely to be called off.Kerala Elephant Owners' Federation secretary K Sasikumar told DH that in Thrissur district alone 55 festivals had been called off in March alone. Altogether around 1,000 temple festivals in Kerala could have been put off this year.

Animal rights activist V K Venkitachalam said that the lockdown indeed became a blessing for elephants as they got relieved from the extensive physical and mental torture during the festivals. Elephants were forced to remain standing and walking for hours with out giving adequate rest. Some popular elephants used to be transported extensively across the state during this season for festivals. It was the mental and physical torture that often result in the elephants running amok and risking lives. Festival seasons also used to be brisk business season for elephant owners. Charge for parading popular elephants would be around Rs.one lakh or more.

Meanwhile, Rajesh Poduval, secretary of the Paramekavu Devaswom, one of the key stake holders of the Thrissur Pooram, said that even as the restrictions over Covid cast a shadow over this year's Thrissur Pooram, a final decision on whether to call off the event or not was yet to be taken.

The last time Thrissur pooram was called off was in early 1960s following some dispute among the organisers. Thereafter, even as many restrictions came on parading elephants, Thrissur Pooram has been remaining unaffected owing to its popularity and even tourist attraction.

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Published 09 April 2020, 16:12 IST

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