Celebrity elephant Ramachandran likely to be paraded for Vilambaram ritual in Pooram

A controversy had erupted after the High Court asked the Collector to take a call on revoking the ban on the elephant which has killed several people so far.
Celebrity elephant Ramachandran likely to be paraded for Vilambaram ritual in Pooram
Celebrity elephant Ramachandran likely to be paraded for Vilambaram ritual in Pooram
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Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran is most likely to be paraded for the 'Vilambaram' ritual on the eve of the Thrissur Pooram festival to be held on May 13.

A three-member medical team that examined the medical fitness of the elephant has reportedly found that it has no symptoms of musth. The team will hand over the report to District Collector TV Anupama on Saturday. The Collector has to take the final call on it.

The state had witnessed a political fight for more than a week over the parading of the elephant at the annual festival of the Vadakkunnathan Temple.

"The medical team has orally communicated to me that the elephant is fit. I'm yet to receive the report. I'm thinking of giving the permission to parade it on the temple premise itself during the Vilambaram ritual. In the meeting on Friday, it was decided that parading the elephant from the Naithalakavu Temple to the Vadakkkunnathan Temple will not be allowed. But parading the elephant on the temple premise will be allowed,” the District Collector told TNM.

 In the medical examination, it was reportedly found that Ramachandran has no injuries, is obedient to the mahouts and that the animal has not completely lost its eyesight.

The Advocate General had advised the Collector to provide conditional permission to parade the elephant. Hence a monitoring panel chaired by the Collector on Friday evening decided to allow the parading of Ramachandran for an hour for the ritual on Sunday if the elephant is medically fit.

However, the AG called for taking precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incidents and has asked that the Captive Elephant Management Rules be strictly followed while parading the elephant. He's also said that the animal should not be provoked.

Pooram Vilambaram marks the beginning of the festival. In the Vilambaram ritual, the elephant carrying the idol of Naithalakavillamma will open the Thekke Gopuram Nada of Vadakkunnanathan Temple. Ramachandran has been used for years for carrying the idol. 

The district administration had earlier banned the parading of the celebrity elephant, which is the prime attraction of the Pooram. The animal has a huge fan following because of its massive size and alluring appearance. However, Ramachandran trampled to death two people in February this year.  In total, the elephant has killed 13 people and three other elephants so far.

Kerala’s Chief Wildlife Warden in March 2019 issued an order banning it from being paraded at temple festivals after a five-member panel of medical experts examined the elephant and declared it medically unfit. The Kerala High Court has previously banned the elephant from being paraded at least six times in the past, the last ban being in 2016.

This year, a decision was taken based on a letter by a Forest Department official to the Thrissur District Collectorate which cited the medical condition of the elephant and asked that it is not paraded. However, right wing groups, the BJP and the elephant owners objected to the decision, paving way for a political fight. The BJP leaders even alleged that the Left government was trying to tamper with the glory of the festival.  Interestingly, the Peramangalam Thechikkottukavu Bhagavathy temple in Thrissur, which owns the elephant, is under the CPI(M)-owned Thechikkotukkavu Devaswom. The Devaswom had approached the Kerala High Court to revoke the ban.

The High Court, on Friday, announced that it will not get involved in the issue and has left it to the District Collector to arrive at a decision on revoking the ban.

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