Thousands throng temple town to witness spectacle

The famous anayottam (elephant race) marked the beginning of the 10-day annual festival of the Guruvayur Sreekrishna Temple on Wednesday.

Elephant Ramankutty of Guruvayur Devaswom came first in the elephant race. Ramankutty is becoming the winner for the 10th time in the race. In all, 27 elephants of the Guruvayur Devaswom participated in the race that was taken out from Manjulal to the kalyanamandapam of the temple. Barricades were erected on both sides of the road to control thousands of elephant lovers, who thronged the place to witness the race. Among the 27, five elephants Achuthan, Ramankutty, Nandan, Nandini and Gopikrishnan were selected to run in the front row.

The Guruvayur Devaswom had made elaborate security arrangements for the ceremony. A crisis management team, including police and doctors, were kept ready to handle any emergency situation.

The anayottam commemorates the belief that elephants came from Thrikkana Mathilakam to Guruvayur when Kochi rulers refused to send elephants for the festival.

Meanwhile, ritual Seeveli without elephants was held in the morning. It is a reminder of the old times when Sreekrishna Temple had no elephant. Keezhsanthi Kodakkad Govindan Namboodiri carried the idol of Guruvayurappan.

Percussion ensembles accompanied.

The Heritage Animal Task Force, in a memorandum to the Chief Wild Life Warden, and the Chief Secretary demanded action against the organisers of the elephant race for allegedly violating the Performing Animals (Registration) Rule 2011. According to the rule, organisers of the race should obtain a No Objection Certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India 72 hours in advance. No such NOC was issued for conducting the race, it alleged.

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