The elephants participate in the daily rituals of the temple as well as the elaborate annual festivities. One of the highlights of that being “Anayottam” or elephant’s running race! Yeah. Might sound bit crazy, but true. Elephants have stayed part of the temple rituals and festivities in Kerala way back into history.
There’s a large community of very proud elephant owners who are passionate about owning these huge pets. An elephant’s worth/price in monetary terms is decided by various factors. The males primarily fetch a good amount of money and the more majestic they look, the more money they make. While not participating in the temple events, these gentle giants would be used to pull large slaughtered trees in timber mills/ government estates etc. This news article can give an indication. Mathanga Leela, considered to be the most authoritative text on Asian elephants is said to have all the details that one needs to know to judge the might of an elephant from the looks of it, apart from being the encyclopedia on elephant care .
How does humans befriend the wild elephants?
Earlier days, wild elephants where caught by digging huge trenches in the elephants’ paths and the ones which fall in there will be taken out with the help of an already tamed elephant. Such caught elephants are then taken to the training centre/government sanctuaries and then tamed the hard way to stay under control of a fragile mahout’s command. Incidents of elephants losing their patience on the mahouts and crushing them under thier feet using the tusks are not a rareity. These tamed elephants are then put on auction where the owners would buy and take them to respective places. Off late there’ve been changes in the rules about catching elephants which has resulted in dearth of new tuskers coming into the arena. This has increased the demand of the existing elephants, thus transaction prices for them shooting sky high.
Punnathoor Kotta/ Anathavalam/ Elephant sanctuary is home to the elephants which devotees of Lord Sri Krishna, Guruvayoorappan, present to the lord. As of August 2013, the sanctuary hosts 60 elephants mostly males, but a few females as well. The sanctuary in it’s full might has hosted more than 100 elephants within it’s boundaries. Very close to the Guruvayur Temple, lot of devotees visit the sanctuary. A good place to visit if you are around there. Entry fee : Rs. 5/- and Rs. 25/- for a still camera.