Watch: Elephant pays tribute to its mahout at funeral in Kerala

Just before he passed away on June 3 in Kerala’s Kottayam district, Damodaran Nair had expressed his wish to see his favourite tusker, Pallattu Brahmadathan, one last time.
Brahmadathan, an elephant, pays tribute to his mahout at his funeral in Kerala
Brahmadathan, an elephant, pays tribute to his mahout at his funeral in Kerala
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When Pallattu Brahmadathan touched the mortal remains of his mahout, Damodaran Nair, with his trunk, people gathered around could not hold back their tears; sobs turned into wails. Rajesh, Damodaran’s son, too, embraced Brahmadathan by its tusk and sobbed. The elephant then took a step back, curled its trunk multiple times and was walked out of the funeral. On June 3, the decades-old relationship between Pallattu Brahmadathan and Damodaran Nair, alias Omanachettan, came to an end when the latter died due to cancer in Kerala’s Kottayam district. But, the jumbo-size love of the elephant knew no bounds when he lumbered to the funeral and paid his respects to his human friend.

According to relatives, Damodaran was active as a mahout and trainer for 60 years, during which, he was Pallattu Brahmadathan’s mahout for the last 25 years. The duo was a regular pair in major festivals across Kerala, including the popular Thrissur Pooram. In fact, the recent Thrissur Pooram, on April 23, was the pair’s last public festival. The Thiruvarppu Anayottam (elephant race), like the Guruvayoor Anayottam, was conducted in Kottayam under the leadership of Brahmadathan-Damodaran Nair.

Brahmadathan’s first owner was a Puthuppally resident in Kottayam, after which, two brothers — Manoj and Rajesh Pallattu — bought him. It was then that Brahmadathan and Damodaran Nair met for the first time in Pala, about 25 years ago. “It was Omanachettan’s last wish to see his favourite elephant and we fulfilled that today, at the funeral,” Rajesh Pallattu, owner of the tusker, told TNM.

“Until last week, Omanachettan was active as Brahmadathan’s mahout. They developed a deep relationship over the past many years. He considered Brahmadathan as his son," said Rajesh. It was last week that Damodaran developed health issues and was in his bed. On June 3, as his condition worsened, Rajesh visited him and he expressed his wish to see Brahmadathan. However, within a few minutes, Damodaran passed away. “That’s when we decided to fulfil his last wish. We then brought the elephant from my house in Melampara to Lakkattoor (both in Kottayam), which is 25 kilometres away from each other,” added Rajesh. 

The video of Brahmadathan paying his last respects to his mahout has gone viral on social media. “In my opinion, it was the best honour for Omanachettan,” said Rajesh. “We considered Omanachettan as our family member. Brahmadathan, too, is our family member. It was a special relationship between the elephant and mahout. He was known for his skill to train elephants."

Notably, Brahmadathan once saved the life of his favourite mahout at the Thrissur Pooram. During the Thrithalloor Pooram in Thrissur district on March 23, 2003, an elephant attempted to hit Damodaran. Seeing this, Brahmadathan reached the spot immediately and blocked the elephant, saving his mahout. When Brahmadathan saved him, Damodaran hugged and kissed the tusker. It was an unforgettable moment for all elephant lovers.

Watch: The elephant pays last respects to his mahout

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