The rehearsal of the first batch of nine Dasara elephants, led by tusker Abhimanyu, in preparation for the Vijayadashmi procession, began on Sunday.
The elephants will walk the procession route from the palace to the Bannimantap Grounds twice a day covering 5 km. This is to familiarise them with the procession route besides exposing them to the noise and din of the urban milieu.
Though some of the elephants, including Abhimanyu, Arjuna, Vikrama, are veterans of Mysuru Dasara, the trials and rehearsals are considered essential as the full-fledged procession is being held after two years.
During 2020 and 2021, Dasara celebrations were cancelled and only held in a symbolic manner. The procession itself was confined to about 400 metres within the palace.
But this year, the government has announced that the celebrations will be a grand affair. As the procession is being held after two years, the number of participants is also expected to be higher.
Though Abhimanyu has carried the golden howdah weighing 50 kg twice, it was only for a short stretch – of about 400 metres – within the palace premises. This will be his first full-fledged procession entailing a walk of 5 km with the howdah. Hence emphasis will be on preparing him for the gruelling task ahead.
Before the commencement of the rehearsals, special prayers were performed for Abhimanyu and his team after which the elephants began their march from the palace gate north to cover Chamaraja Circle, K.R. Circle, Sayyaji Rao Road, Ayurvedic College Circle, Bamboo Bazaar, and terminating at Bannimantap Grounds.
Deputy Conservator of Forests V. Karikalan said apart from the daily walks, the elephants will practice carrying weight that will be gradually increased till they are comfortable carrying 750 kg – the weight of the howdah.
The second batch of another five elephants will join the first batch in due course.