Guruvayur Kannan came first for the ninth time in the ‘anayottam' (elephant race) on Monday, which marked the opening of the 10-day annual festival at the Guruvayur Sreekrishna Temple.
Elephants Achuthan and Junior Madhavankutty finished in the second and third places respectively.
In all, 28 elephants belonging to the Guruvayur Devaswom participated in the race, which was held from Manjulal to the temple.
The elephant Achuthan was in the first position initially. But Kannan took the lead later. Though elephants Kannan, Achuthan, Gopikrishnan, Umadevi and Junior Madhavankutty were shortlisted for running in the front row, Umadevi was replaced by Sankaranarayanan.
In view of the havoc wreaked by an elephant during the race last year, the Davaswom had made stringent security measures for the event.
Elephants were not allowed to run inside the temple premises. Last year, an elephant Sreekrishna ran amok, terrifying the devotees during the race.
A crisis management team, including the police and doctors, were kept ready to handle any emergency situation.
This is the ninth time that the 50-year-old Kannan has emerged victorious. K.V. Anandan, Sudhi and Krishna Kumar are the mahouts of Kannan.
Devawom chairman T.V. Chandramohan; Devaswom administrator K. Venugopal and others were present on the occasion.
The ‘anayattom' commemorates a belief that elephants ran from the Thrikkana Mathilam to Guruvayur when the Kochi rulers once refused to feature pachyderms in the annual temple festival.
The festival flag was hoisted by the temple thantri (chief priest) on Monday.