Sri Lanka's internationally known elephant orphanage at Pinnawela near here, on Sunday held its biggest ever christening ceremony for 15 baby elephants.

All of them were born in the orphanage, 13 last year and two in 2010.

Nihal Senaratne, Director of the Pinnawela orphanage, said the name was determined by an astrologer.

“An astrologer looked at the time of birth of each elephant. He then decided on the first letter of each baby's name according to its horoscope.”

The names given were: Singithi, Ahinsa, Themiya, Wanamali, Trinky, Elvina, Nandi, Mangala, Annuththara, Jeevaka, Kadol, Isira, Bimuthi, Aithi and Gagana.

Foreign and local visitors were also asked to give names. The foreigners named two of the babies.

The orphanage, about 80 km east of Colombo, is a major tourist attraction where large crowds gather to watch the elephant bath.

The elephants are herded to the nearby river for the daily bath. Opened in 1975, Pinnawela houses 83 elephants, most of whom were abandoned or separated from their herds when they were babies. — PTI