news Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 05:30
Hollywood actor Pamela Anderson has sent a letter to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asking not to parade elephants for Thrissur Pooram, the largest temple festival of the state. The Pooram, scheduled on the 29th and 30th of this month will see over a hundred caparisoned elephants paraded at various sub events.
A member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Pamela, in her letter says that “elephants are close to my heart” and that she is against parading elephants for Thrissur pooram, in the wake of lack of adequate permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India.
Thrissur Pooram is an iconic festival and locals attach a  lot of pride with it, most discounting the concerns of activists that parading elephants amounts to torture.
Pamela Anderson even made an offer to replace live elephants with dummy ones. "I would like to contribute the cost of providing 30 elephants made of bamboo, wood and/or papiermâché to replace the live elephants who would have been paraded at an estimated cost of Rs 10, 000," she wrote. 
The News Minute asked some residents and tourists in Thrissur what they thought of Pamela Anderson's offer.
TR Vijayakumar of the Elite Group opines that elephants are the charm of Thrissur Pooram and strict rules must be brought in to prevent the misuse of elephants. “One cannot go by what a Hollywood actor says, especially when she does not know what she is talking about,” he says.
Image source: തൃശൂർപൂരം Thrissur Pooram/Facebook
“Thrissur Pooram is synonymous with the extravaganza that the elephants showcase. There just cannot be a Pooram without elephants”, said Adithya Kumar, an under-graduate student, who claims to be a diehard fan of the festival.
Anderson further points out that international sentiment is turning against the use of elephants in captivity and that tourists in Kerala would not be pleased to see the plight of elephants.
“The actor probably does not know that Thrissur Pooram attracts a lot of tourists at this time of the year,” a juice shop owner said half mocking, before moving on to attend to his customers.
Mahesh who has come down from Bengaluru to attend Pooram says, “Completely banning parading elephants is not the right approach to tackle the issue. In fact such festivals help in bringing people close to nature. So Pamela’s offer is definitely unacceptable.”
Image source: തൃശൂർപൂരം Thrissur Pooram/Facebook
"It's surely going to hurt the sentiments of Pooram fans. Her comments may be out of good intention, but it is unimaginable," says Benny John.
"Outsiders don't understand the emotions involved with Pooram. Having dummy elephants is just not acceptable," says A Rajendran, a retired businessman, who hails from Thrissur. 
Majority of the people TNM spoke to had to say one thing in common: “Pamela Anderson does not understand our culture and therefore should stay away from getting herself involved in such matters”.
TNM's take
Local people who have traditionally seen the use of elephants in temple rituals and activities often offer resistance and opposition when animal rights activists talk of the ill-treatment of animals in captivity. Given this scenario, where pride and prestige is associated with temple activities, more efforts need to be put into engaging with the local people and getting them to view animals in captivity in a different manner.
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