The first batch of nine elephants, led by Abhimanyu, was accorded a ceremonial reception at the palace complete with ensemble of traditional musicians to set the tone for the Dasara festival, in Mysuru on August 10.
Abhimanyu and company will camp in the palace premises till Dasara to be held from September 26 to October 5. They will rehearse every day for the daunting tasks ahead.
The elephants set off from the jungle camps to Mysuru on July 7. After resting at Aranya Bhavan for three days, they were brought to the palace in a procession in the morning.
The duly decorated and caparisoned elephants were the cynosure of all eyes as they marched through the main thoroughfares of Mysuru, bringing traffic to a halt while people lined up to catch a glimpse of the ‘Gaja Pade’, or the ‘elephant squad’.
From Aranya Bhavan in Ashokapura, the elephants marched in a single file to Ramaswamy Circle from where they took the Ooty Road and swung to the left to face the Jayamartanda Gate. A ceremonial reception awaited Abhimanyu and company at the Jayamartanda Gate where priests, musicians, folk artistes were in attendance to perform for the Dasara elephants.
Special prayers were once again conducted for the collective well-being of the elephants and the smooth conduct of the festival. Hymns were chanted following which ‘mangala arti’ was performed for the elephants.
The dignitaries, including district in-charge minister S.T. Somashekar, MP Pratap Simha, MLA S.A. Ramdas, Mayor Sunanda Palanetra, Deputy Commissioner Bagadi Gautham, senior officials of the Forest Department and police personnel, showered flowers for ‘Pushpa archane’ for the elephants, which were then ushered in to the main portico of the palace.
The mini-procession from Jayamartanda Gate to the palace was led by the ensemble of folk artistes followed by the police band and an ensemble of traditional musicians playing nadaswara.
The elephants ambled along and completed the mini-procession without much ado after which a second round of prayers was conducted and petals showered on them. Rituals completed, the dignitaries posed for photographs with the caparisoned elephants which were then led to their respective ad hoc stables where they will camp along with the respective mahouts.
A team of veterinarians and other officials have established a temporary camp to look after the Dasara elephants who will be on a special diet during their stay in Mysuru. The second batch of five elephants will join them in due course; their date of arrival is yet to be confirmed.
For a city which is known to play host to elephants during Dasara season for centuries, even today their arrival adds a zing to the city providing photo opportunities to tourists while people tend to flock to the palace gates or line up along the procession route to catch them in action during rehearsals.