Kerala

Permission to parade elephant for Navaratri procession denied

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The famed Navaratri procession from Kanyakumari to the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in the State capital faces the prospect of lacking a caparisoned elephant, probably for the first time in the history of the centuries old ritual.

The Forest Department has locked horns yet again with elephant owners and festival organisers by denying permission to parade captive elephants for the procession that will cover over 100 kilometres in three days.

The controversy has cropped up a few months after either groups were at loggerheads in the run-up to Thrissur Pooram over the same issue.

The lack of valid ownership certificates has been cited as the reason behind disallowing the use of tusker Sreekanteswaram Sivakumar which is possessed by the Travancore Devaswom Board.

“We have merely upheld the provisions of the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules by insisting on parading elephants that were certified within the ambit of the law. The festival organisers have failed to furnish the documents that were required to grant them a no-objection certificate for parading the elephant,” an official said.

The officer added that most captive elephants that were under the possession of the Board did not possess ownership certificates. He added that the organisers could explore the option of hiring another elephant that possessed the requisite certification.

Lashing out at the move, the festival organisers accused the Forest Department of attempting to impede tradition. Viswas V. Nair, district secretary of the festival coordination committee, said that the unreasonable stance of forest officials had threatened to jeopardise the conduct of the ritualistic procession.

“The department had issued a data book for the elephant that could be considered as equivalent to an ownership certificate. Besides, they had also implanted a microchip in the elephant some years ago. It is illogical to question the legality of the elephant’s custody at this point,” he said.

As a last-ditch attempt, the organisers are learnt to have sought special permission from the government to ensure that the procession in all its pomp and splendour.

During the inter-State procession, the idol of Goddess Saraswathi is brought on the ceremonial elephant from the Padmanabhapuram Palace at Thuckalay.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 10:39:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/permission-to-parade-elephant-for-navaratri-procession-denied/article29501643.ece

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