ALAPPUZHA: The administration of Nalpathenneeswaram Sree Mahadeva Temple has finally said ‘No’ to the use of elephants in rituals to “please the deity”.
Kiraathamoorthy, the presiding deity of the temple, endorsed the devaswom’s decision during a ‘ashtamangalya prasnam’ to know his mind. It said that getting rid of caparisoned elephants will not be an issue and it is comfortable in Jeevatha, a wooden structure widely used in temples of central Travancore to mount idols, during the seven-day festival from February 18.
Thus, Mahadeva temple has become the second in Cherthala, and perhaps in the state to discontinue use of elephants. A few years ago, the Kanichu-kulangara Temple, near Cherthala had set an example for a better society. The century old temple, which has a history of using at least 15 elephants till recently for all days, will be the safest place for devotees to offer prayers as ‘Kazhchasreebali’, for which at least five elephants were used last year, is set to be held with jeevathas to be carried on shoulders of men who had undergone fasting and penance for 40 days.
A public notice distributed at the temple for the festival said: “As Devaswom proclaimed last year in a cultural meet, it was decided to remove the risky elephant parade this year. The jeevathas will be introduced instead. The fund set aside for elephant parade will be used for welfare of the temple and local people.”
“We longed to do this year,” said P.S. Sujith, former president of the temple. “However, one of the Karayogams remains belligerent. They say they will parade two elephants during their turn. Even if they defy our decision, the temple devaswom stands firm by the decision not to use elephants for the rest of six days at the temple. All have agreed with us’, he said. “I personally like to watch the elephant parade. However, I respect the devaswom’s decision as the parade poses a huge risk. We have seen many incidents of elephant fury in Cherthala. I think this will be replicated in other temples,” said K.S. Sreekumari, a local resident.