Thechikottukavu Ramachandran heralds Thrissur Pooram

The Thrissur Pooram of Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur district will be performed on Monday. (PTI File Photo)

 Witnessed by thousands of elephant lovers and devotees, controversial tusker Thechikottukavu Ramachandran performed the ritual heralding the Thrissur Pooram festival on Sunday.

The Thrissur Pooram will be performed at Vadakkunnathan temple on Monday. About 100 elephants will be paraded on the temple premises and perform colourful display and exchange of umbrellas and ornaments.

The Pooram drew much attraction this time for a different reason. Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, the tusker that killed 13 persons over the years was initially banned by the Thrissur district collector-led monitoring committee this year, considering the chances of the tusker creating trouble.

Following pressure from elephant owners as well as politicos, the committee gave conditional permission to use the tusker in the ritual.

People started thronging the temple premises right from the wee hours of Sunday. The police set up barricades to keep the public away from the tusker. The public was also advised not to make loud noises and other play any antics that would disturb the partially blind elephant.

By around 9.45 am, the tusker was brought to the temple premises in a lorry and taken inside the temple. At 10.45 am, the tusker came out of the temple from the Southern entrance, which opens only on two occasions in a year — for the Thrissur Pooram and 'Sivarathri'.

As the elephant carrying the 'Tidambu' (idol) came out, thousands of people greeted the tusker by calling him by his pet name 'Raman'.

The organisers wanted to carry out a procession of the tusker as per the ritual, but the authorities did not allow it. Instead, another elephant carried the idol in the procession.

The internationally renowned Thrissur Pooram is being held under tight vigil this time in the wake of recent reports that IS operatives were even planning terror strike at temple festivals in Kerala.

Ban and relaxation

Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, the tallest captive tusker in Kerala, has been performing the ritual heralding Thrissur Pooram over the last five years. But the Thrissur district collector imposed a ban on he after he killed two persons in February.

The elephant owners in Kerala protested against this and decided not to parade any of their elephants for any festivals in Kerala. The left-front government in Kerala faced allegations of an attempt to sabotage the renowned temple festival.

Amidst the mounting pressure, the Kerala government's advocate general gave a legal opinion that conditional permission may be given for the tusker to perform the ritual. Subsequently, the Thrissur district collector relaxed the ban.

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