Last howdah duty for Arjuna?

Dasara Elephant Arjuna carrying golden howdah during world famouse Jamboo Savari, at K R Circle in Mysuru (Photo by IRSHAD MAHAMMAD)

Arjuna, the 59-year-old elephant, was the cynosure of all eyes during the Jamboo Savari as he carried the Golden Howdah for the ninth time, eighth time in a row.

However, owing to his age, he might not carry the howdah next time, even though he might participate in the Dasara festivities. As per the Supreme Court directions and Union government’s guidelines, no elephant above 60 years of age is supposed to do heavy or stressful work.

Arjuna has participated in Dasara for the last 20 years. He will be 60 years old during Dasara-2020. He was captured in 1968 at Kakanakote Forest and is housed at Balle camp in H D Kote taluk, Mysuru district. Arjuna is considered as a trouble-shooter, as he was part of taming and capturing several rogue elephants. In addition, the Forest department used his services in several tiger rescue operations.

Abhimanyu, 53, who has good experience of Dasara, looks like a successor to Arjuna. Abimanyu is also participating in Dasara from 20 years. He was captured at Hebballa Forest in Kodagu district in 1977.

On Tuesday, the howdah was mounted near the residential side of the Mysuru Palace, where head of the erstwhile royal family Pramoda Devi Wadiyar guided a team of mahouts and kaavadis, led by retired mahout Akram. Even then, the howdah seemed to be leaning towards its right, forcing the Forest department officials to tie two ropes on the howdah from the left side, to balance it, as a precautionary measure.

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