The Forest Department will initiate the process of identifying elephants for Mysuru Dasara-2022 from July 15 onwards and the jumbos for the finale is likely to be finalised by July 30, ahead of the Dasara High-Power Committee meeting.
Dasara was a low-key affair for the last two years and the celebrations could be grander this year with the pandemic under control and all curbs having been lifted. Therefore, the number of jumbos could be more this year.
About 14-15 jumbos are likely to be finalised and the jumbo list after their health check-up would be sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) for approval. On the government’s nod, the dates of Gajapayana are finalised.
Last year, eight elephants with the lead jumbo Abhimanyu were brought to Mysuru for Dasara and the procession was confined to the palace premises. In 2021 too, the procession was limited to the palace surroundings over curbs on large gatherings in view of the pandemic.
Deputy Conservator of Forests Karikalan told The Hindu that they would start identifying elephants visiting the jumbo camps in Nagarahole, Bandipur and Dubare from July 15 onwards. Besides jumbos that have been participating in Dasara since many years, new faces will be brought as a back-up and to prepare the second line of elephants.
“We need at least 55-days’ time to train the elephants. The tasks were limited last year as the procession was confined to the palace. For longer procession on the usual route, the tasks are more and the training time would be more. Therefore, we may have to bring all of them in one batch or at least the main jumbos in the first batch for the training. A final decision on this will be taken at the appropriate time by our higher authorities,” the DCF said.
Mr Karikalan said the training of elephants may start after August 15 as there is a need to condition the elephants to the usual Dasara procession route since there has been a gap since the last two years. This year’s Vijayadashami procession is on October 5.
Abhimanyu, who is the lead elephant carrying the golden howdah for the last two years, may continue to lead the team this year too.
The 56-year-old Abhimanyu, one of the longest serving members of the elite Dasara jumbo squad, was identified by the Forest Department in 2020 as the potential successor to take on the mantle of carrying the 750 kg golden howdah as Arjuna turned 60 and was retired from the big task.