The elephants are usually brought 45 days ahead of the festival
The first batch of Dasara elephants, led by Balarama, marched to the Mysore palace to a rousing reception, complete with an ensemble of musicians and the police band, here on Monday.
Signalling the countdown for Dasara, the six elephants, which arrived from jungle camps, usually come 45 days ahead of the festival in what is their annual tryst with the city.
During the course of their stay, the elephants are made to familiarise with the procession route and various religious paraphernalia in which they have a key role to play.
Having completed the customary Gajapayana last week in which the elephants were flagged off from Nagapura on the outskirts of the Nagarahole forests, the gentle giants were rested in the city before being escorted to the palace in a procession.
Decked in finery and embellished with tasteful paints, the caparisoned elephants — Balarama, Arjuna, Gajendra, Vijaya, Srirama and Abhimanyu — were the cynosure of all eyes on the main streets of the city. Traffic on the 100-ft road was blocked for some time to pave way for the elephants.
The stately march of the caparisoned elephants was a sight to behold on the main roads as traffic came to a halt and signal lights were switched off. With clock-like precision, they swerved and swung to their left on approaching the Jayamartanda Gate for the final lap into the palace.
A battery of priests awaited the gentle giants who seemed to relish the attention being showered on them.
Special prayers were conducted for their collective health and the smooth conduct of the festivities. The ensemble of musicians playing Nadaswara and other traditional instruments belted out classical numbers from the Carnatic genre, adding to the festive atmosphere while petals were showered on the elephants which acknowledged the gesture by raising their trunks.
The mahouts and their assistants, called kavadis, were accorded due honours. After the special rituals to welcome the elephants, Balarama and company were ushered through the Jayamartanda Gate into the main courtyard of the palace with scores of women in traditional ‘kalasha’ welcoming the herd.
Minister for Medical Education S.A. Ramdas, Mayor M.C. Rajeshwari, Deputy Commissioner P.S. Vastrad, Commissioner of Police K.L. Sudheer, Superintendent of Police R. Dileep, and officials from the Forest and Revenue departments, besides tourists and students were present to receive the elephants.
After the mandatory photo session with the huge gathering, the elephants walked towards their camps where they will stay till the completion of the festivities.
The second batch of six more elephants will join them in the weeks ahead to bring up their strength to 12. The elephants will be kept on a special diet during their stay and will be constantly monitored by veterinarians.
The second batch of six elephants will join them in the weeks ahead The elephants are kept on a special diet and monitored constantly
The second batch of six elephants will join them in the weeks ahead
The elephants are kept on a special diet and monitored constantly