Puducherry: For the next two months, visitors to Manakula Vinayagar Temple will miss its star attraction – elephant Lakshmi as the animal left for the rejuvenation camp at Thekkampatti in Coimbatore district from here on Wednesday.
She boarded the truck with all arrangements after receiving special pooja at the temple in the morning.
The elephant will be in the rejuvenation camp for 48 days Prakruti of the Sri Dharbaraneswara Swamy temple located in Thirunallar, Karaikal, will also be participating in the camp for the sixth consecutive year along with Lakshmi.
The 29-year-old Lakshmi was donated to the temple when she was ten and is the darling of visitors since then. Lakshmi is part of all rituals in the temple and in the evenings, she stood near the entrance, blessing devotees with her trunk.
Devotees in return had gifted Lakshmi many things including her silver anklets.
The temple had often landed in controversy also the over ownership of the animal and denying proper care for it.
Animal right groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) had several times asked the Forest Department to cancel the ownership certificate issued to the temple citing the cruelty to the elephant and demanded that the animal should be transferred to a sanctuary citing the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)’s authorised inspection report on foot rot and mental health.
The government and Lt Governor Kiran Bedi had locked horns last year over the issue as the later had asked the government to send the elephant to forest following a representation from PETA. The elephant has not visited the temple since December 14 last year after the Department of Forest and Wildlife directed temple authorities not to bring it to the temple until further orders were given, reportedly in response to a compaint given by PETA which raised concerns over the health condition of the animal.
In the rejuvenation camp, the health of the elephant will be monitored by a team of experts and they will be supplied with vitamins and other supplements. The elephant will be back by February 22.