Guruvayur’s pride elephant ‘Gajaratnam’ Padmanabhan dies, scores pay tribute at funeral

One of the most sought after elephants of the Guruvayur temple, ‘Gajaratnam’ Guruvayur Padmanabhan was offered to the temple by a business family from Ottappalam in 1954.
Guruvayur’s pride elephant ‘Gajaratnam’ Padmanabhan dies, scores pay tribute at funeral
Guruvayur’s pride elephant ‘Gajaratnam’ Padmanabhan dies, scores pay tribute at funeral
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One of the most popular elephants of the Guruvayur temple in Kerala’s Thrissur district, ‘Gajaratnam’ Guruvayur Padmanabhan, died on Wednesday. The tusker, who had been carrying the Guruvayur Sri Krishna idol for festivals, was 84 years old.

According to the authorities of the Guruvayur Devaswom Board, which oversees the administration of the temple, the tusker had been unwell for over a month and was being treated for the last two weeks after he developed swelling in his body. Post 9 am on Wednesday, his condition worsened and was declared dead at 2 pm at the Punathoorkotta, a training centre for captive elephants near the Guruvayur Sri Krishna temple.

At the time of his death, all doctors of the Guruvayur Devaswom were present near the tusker, monitoring his health condition.

One of the most sought after elephants of the Guruvayur temple, Padmanabhan was offered to the temple by a member of the EP Brothers from Palakkad’s Ottappalam in 1954.

Since then, the tusker has had the special distinction of carrying the Sri Krishna Thidambu or miniature idol of the presiding deity for the last 66 years. With his long tusks, majestic and composed demeanour, Padmanabhan earned him the title of ‘Gajaratnam’. He also had a massive fan-following in the state and was much in demand during the Thrissur Pooram.

In 2004, the tusker set the record for the maximum fee charged (called ekkam), at Rs 2.25 lakh a day, for the procession at the Nenmara-Vallanki Vela. According to a report by Mathrubhumi in 2017, the rent for hiring Padmanabhan for temple festivals was Rs 55,000, and Rs 82,500 for special occasions.

In December 2019, the Forest Department had imposed restrictions on Padmanabhan and Guruvayur Valiya Keshavan from being paraded at processions, citing age and health-related issues. However, due to the high demand of the elephant, the Forest Department formed an expert committee to monitor the health condition of the elephant and later lifted the ban on Padmanabhan on February 3 last year, according to a Times of India report. However, the tusker developed diarrhoea and other health ailments a week later.

With Padmanabhan’s passing away, the number of elephants under Guruvayur Devaswom’s ownership stands at 47.

Scores of devotees of the temple thronged Padmanabhan’s funeral, chanting ‘Narayana Nayarayana’, to pay their last respects to the elephant. Many devotees believed Padmanabhan was an avatar of Guruvayur Kesavan, one of the most celebrated pachyderms owned by Guruvayur Devaswom. Guruvayur Kesavan died in December 1976.

Guruvayur famous elephant Padmanabhan is no more.temple closed for 2 days.many people believed that this elephant is an avatar of guruvayur kesavan

Posted by Venkat Kp on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The deceased tusker will be buried on Thursday. The temple has been closed for two days.

Many took to Facebook to condole the death of the pachyderm. 

Guruvayoor Padmanabhan... The respect he has got even after he his no more.... Temple is closed ....lord guruvayoorappan is also sad.. Om namo narayan

Posted by Suresh Iyer on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Hare Krishna Never ever knew in wildest of dreams that this was the last Pranam I was offering to you dearest...

Posted by Anoop Sankar on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Guruvayur temple elephant Gajaratnam Guruvayur Padmanabhan with E.P.Madhava Nair's wife Padmavathi Amma, (my mom's first...

Posted by Meera Prathap on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Kerala tusker, Guruvayoor Padmanabhan dies at 84. Where ever he went people welcomed him with garlands and even spread floral carpets for him. #OmShanti

Posted by Raksha Ramaiah S on Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Heartly Consolance from Devasthanam on the Death of Gajaratnam Padmanabhan

Tearful condolences from Devasthanam to Gajaratna Padmanabhan who touched the Lotus Feet of Bhagvan ... The elephant named Guruvayur Padmanabhan, who gained the title of ‘Gajaratnam’ due to his attractive features like long trunk touching the ground and well-carved shape, died at 2.10 pm, Guruvayur Devaswom Chairman K B Mohandas told PTI. Padmanabhan, one of the oldest elephant in the captivity, was much sought after during the temple festivals across the state including famous Thrissur Pooram.

Posted by Peringottukara Devastanam Sree Vishnumaya Swami Temple on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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