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Rejuvenation time for elephants

G. Prabhakaran
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Robust:The Sukha Chikilsa for the tuskers of MangalamkunnuTharavad near Ottappalam in Palakkad district.
Robust:The Sukha Chikilsa for the tuskers of MangalamkunnuTharavad near Ottappalam in Palakkad district.

It is rejuvenation in elephantine proportions at Mangalamkunnu Tharavad, a remote village of the same name in Ottappalam taluk of Palakkad district.

The 13 tuskers there, popular among elephant-lovers in the State, are given an Ayurveda therapy (Sukha Chikilsa) during June-July as per Hasti Ayurveda, the traditional book that prescribes treatment for elephants.

The pachyderms are given a rejuvenating mix of rice, Ayurvedic medicines, and herbs. They also get oil massages and a scrub bath every day. This is the time when the elephants relax and regain health after the four-month festival season which ends in May.

Mangalamkunnu Tharavad houses 13 domesticated elephants. Only Guruvayur Devaswom outnumbers this (64).

The elephants of the ‘tharavadu’ such as Mangalamkunnu Ayyappan, Karnan, and Ganapathy are deemed ‘super stars’ and are sought for temple festivals.

Ayyappan was the first elephant to be brought by M.A. Parameswaran from Bihar in 1976. Over the years, Mr. Parameswaran and his brother M.A. Haridas added 17 more. Four elephants died.

Mr. Parameswaran said he started buying elephants out of passion. Now, the buying and selling of elephants is prevented by law. In another two decades, there will not be many domesticated tuskers left to hold even the Thrissur Pooram or Nemmara Vallangi Vela. As per the official data book, there are only 580 domesticated elephant left in the State, he said.

Between 2008 and 2012, 200 elephants had died in the State. Thus, the average elephant death in a year is estimated to be over 35. The lack of scientific treatment facilities and experienced doctors were the major reasons so many deaths, he said.

Prakash Iyer, the owner of Kuravatoor Mahadevan and Ganesh, was also at his ancestral village of Chembai Agraharam, near Palakkad, where the elephants were getting Sukha Chikilsa.

He has charted out a detailed treatment and food regimen for the animals.

A grown-up elephant required 500 kg of food every day. All vegetarian food consumed by huma beings can be given to elephants, in proportion to their weight, Mr. Iyer said.

The 13 elephants of Mangalamkunnu Tharavad in Ottapalam are regaining their health after the hectic four-month festival season which ended in May.

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