The temple in Cherthala decided that they would be replacing elephants with wooden structures or jeevathas to mount the deity.

Kerala temple renounces use of elephants for rituals citing safety concerns
news Human Interest Sunday, February 11, 2018 - 12:23

For the second time in the state, a temple in Cherthala, Kerala has decided to do away with the practice of using elephants for rituals. The Nalpathenneeswaram Sree Mahadeva Temple administration decided that it would finally discontinue the use of caparisoned elephants for temple rituals, citing safety of devotees.

The devaswom declared that they would replace elephants with wooden structures or ‘jeevathas’, which are widely used in central Travancore temples, to mount the deities for the seven-day festival beginning February 18, according to a Deccan Chronicle report.

According to the report, a public notice distributed for the festival informed devotees that the temple board had decided to do away with the elephant parade this year for the safety of the people and will introduce ‘jeevathas’ instead. The notice also stated that funds kept for the elephant parade would be used for the welfare of the temple and the locals, according to the report.

This is the second temple in Cherthala, and perhaps in the state, to discontinue the use of elephants, a widely practised tradition in the temples of Kerala. A few years ago, the Kanichukulangara Devi temple near Cherthala in Alappuzha district decided to discontinue the use of elephants, for the welfare and safety of devotees, the report stated. The centuries old temple, until now, had been using not less than 15 elephants every day for daily rituals. To maintain the sanctity of the ritual, the jeevathas would be carried on the shoulders of men who have observed fasting and penance for 40 days, the report stated.

Former president of the temple P S Sujith said that while the administration is determined to carry out the decision this year, one of the karayogams (wings) opposed it and said that they would parade elephants during their turn to host the 7-day festival. However, the devaswom remains unanimous in their decision to not use elephants on all the other six days, said the report.

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