‘Andal’ goes viral

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple elephant, Andal, with mahout Rajesh. in Srirangam.   | Photo Credit: SRINATH M

A video clip of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple elephant, Andal, communicating with her mahout Rajesh is going viral with animal lovers sharing it across several social media platforms.

In the clip, the mahout can be seen asking Andal questions, to which the elephant responds with nods. Mr. Rajesh is a third-generation mahout. His father too, worked at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, while his grandfather worked at the Sri Jambukeswarar temple in Thiruvanaikoil.


To him, speaking to animals comes naturally, he told The Hindu. “There is nothing unique about Andal responding to me. All elephants communicate with their mahouts. She needs me when she eats, when she’s angry and even when she’s happy. It is a bond that we forge over several years,” he said. He fell in love with pachyderms from the stories his family told him, and soon, took up the job, he said.

Andal, the 42-year-old elephant has been at the Srirangam temple for over 36 years and is a very loving elephant, Mr.Rajesh said. “Do not reduce her intelligence to just her response to my questions. She knows what her duty is through the day, she knows when the temple gates open, she knows when it is a special day and must be cleaned up and ready. Elephants are smart animals, but Andal is very smart,” he laughed.

Watch | Andal, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple elephant, communicating with its mahout

Andal’s daily schedule involves taking a dip at Kollidam before sunrise and offering prayers at the temple at 6 a.m. She is fed fruits, cane jaggery, rice among other items.

With the arrival of another elephant, Premi, also referred to as Lakshmi in October last year, Andal has a friend too, Rajesh said. “It is tradition to have at least two elephants at the temple. With the addition of Lakshmi, we are able to give Andal some much-needed rest. Lakshmi, who is younger, will take up some of the duties at the temple,” he said.

While elephants are generally friendly animals, Rajesh said that he would recommend that devotees keep a distance from the elephants. "We insist that the public see the elephants from at least 10 feet away. If they want to offer food, they must always consult the mahout," he said.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 2:30:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/andal-goes-viral/article33686852.ece

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