Some elephant tales of Thrissur Pooram linked to glorious yesterdays
If we listen to the stories of some elephants and journey from forest, we may feel a bit surprised. Even if we try to send them to forest, they return back to their master. Yes, when he is transformed from a wild elephant to lovable ‘pet’, he has changed so much. When the tag ‘Captive’ is added to his name, his love, behaviour, interests – everything has changed.
There is one real life story about a young elephant. His mother got trapped in a hole. Yet he was not willing to leave her. He later became one of the major elephants of Thrissur Pooram and other local temple festivals. At the age of 5, a young elephant lost its way in forest, and later tamed to become a land elephant. There are many such interesting stories connected with each and every captive elephant of Thrissur Pooram. Also read: Some elephant sights of the fortnight of Thrissur Pooram
Dwellings of elephants
There are many elephants in Kerala temple festivals whose native place is Bihar. Not only they were forced to leave the forests where they dwelled, but also the culture and language with which they were associated once. There are a few interesting stories of elephants which were born in Kerala, shifted to Andaman islands and later returned to mother nation once again. Not only that, there are many trained circus elephants which later carried ‘Thidamb’ for Kerala festivals. Apart from that, there are many elephants born in Kerala, moved to Delhi with circus troupes and once again returned here. Many of them regularly participate in local poorams too.
A male elephant born to a mother, who moved from Kerala to Delhi for circus but was brought back to Kerala for temple festivals – Stories are not ending here!
Elephants which entered the court rooms
For the sake of poorams, some elephants have even entered court premises. Many interesting stories too are associated with it. Some years back, a single elephant was booked by Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady, the arch rivals of Thrissur, though through two persons. A group booked the elephant via owner, while the second group through mahout. When the elephant reached Thrissur for pooram, hot arguments took place from both ends – Who actually owns the right over elephant for Pooram?
Tensions reached its high note when one of the groups closed the area and locked it, where the elephant was brought to. The other group was not willing to accept the defeat and they locked the place with another lock. Finally the problem reached court. But the final resolution came out only four days after the main event.
70 Ekkam for elephant
In Malayalam year 1135, 70 rupees (then known as Ekkams) was sufficient to book an elephant for Thrissur Pooram. The amount needed to bring an elephant to Pooram was known as Ekkam, some 50 or 100 years back. Read more similar old tales of Thrissur Pooram. The highest price of elephant then was 350 rupees/ekkam, and total cost of elephants was around 4000 rupees. Chandrasekharan, Gopalan and Adikari were some of the prominent elephants then, in the 1950s and 1960s, soon after Indian independence.
Lucky draw to choose an elephant to carry Tidamb
An interesting argument took place in the year 1979. Just one day before Pooram, the authorities of the festival came forward with the suggestion that elephant of Shankaramkulangara devaswom board should carry the divine thidamb. Hot arguments took place at CMS School premises, where elephants camped for pooram events, and Chamaya Pradharshan held there was also stopped. Later police interfered and decided for a lucky draw between the two groups. Names of three or four elephants were suggested. But Thiruvambady group urged to add the name of Govindan Kutty elephant’s name too in the lucky draw. Govindan Kutty’s name was not mentioned earlier during the hot debates and arguments. Yet permission was granted.
A child was assigned the task for lucky draw, and before declaring the final result, the superior police officer put forward a demand. He demanded a signed document from all the participants that, the winner of the luck draw should carry Thidamb for all the four processions, and everyone agreed to it. When results were declared, Govindan Kutty got the right to lead from front, the wild card entry of draw. As his name was not included in the list of participants, he was not there. He had gone to some another temple festival. Soon after he was selected, he became the star of Pooram, and he arrived at Thrissur just before the events. He was welcomed with cheers and garlands by local people, and thus it became a ‘hot topic’ of the festival season.
A brief note on Chenganur Ranganathan
In Thrissur museum, skeleton of Chenganur Ranganathan is preserved. During his glorious days, he owned some of the best pooram tales. Due to his gigantic size, Chenganur Ranganathan was not able to enter many doorways those days. He has carried Kolam for Thrissur Pooram several times.