Pazhavangadi Mahaganapathy Temple, which lies in the shadow of the Sreepadmanabha Swamy Temple and is maintained by the Indian Army, will soon become the first major temple in South India to avoid the use of elephants during its annual festival.
Thiruvananthapuram: On Vinayaka Chathurthi, September 5, the Elephant God will not move around the Fort area on the back of an elephant.
Pazhavangadi Mahaganapathy Temple, which lies in the shadow of the Sreepadmanabha Swamy Temple and is maintained by the Indian Army, will soon become the first major temple in South India to avoid the use of elephants during its annual festival. From this year, the Ganesha deity will be taken around in an open vehicle. The temple has also decided to do away with the traditional fireworks display.
"The Puttingal tragedy has definitely got us thinking," said Captain Sudhakaran, the manager of the Temple. "As for the decision on elephants, we could not turn our backs on the increasing incidents of torture against these animals in the name of religion," he said.
The proposal was put up before the advisory committee of the temple headed by noted neurosurgeon Dr Sambhasivan, and was promptly passed. "The Temple Thantri was also of the view that we had to change according to the times," Captain Sudhakaran said.
The temple authorities have also informed the Pazhavangadi Poura Samithi about the decision. "It was important to tell the people living in the area as the use of elephants had a long tradition. They too are aware of what is happening to elephants and have respected our decision," Captain Sudhakaran said.
The decision could turn out to be revolutionary. "Elephants were always tortured in the name of religion. This decision by a temple like Pazhavangadi is a reminder that rituals can be subjected to timely reforms," said Animal welfare Board member M.N. Jayachandran.
"If all the Devaswoms in the state take a cue from Pazhavangady and ban the use of elephants, there can be no better message the state can convey," he added.
Though smaller temples had begun to keep elephants out, bigger temples continued to shy away from breaking with convention. "This decision by a big temple like Pazhavangady will definitely inspire others to follow suit," said K Venkitachalam, the state’s foremost elephant activist.