Kerala

Sivasundar, a legend vanishes

 After Guruvayur Kesavan, no other elephant has enjoyed as much stardom as Thiruvambady Sivasundar.

After Guruvayur Kesavan, no other elephant has enjoyed as much stardom as Thiruvambady Sivasundar.

As Thrissur gears up for yet another edition of Pooram, thousands are grieving the death of Thiruvambadi Sivasundar, who died on March 11.

People of Thrissur are elephant lovers. Their lives are closely identified with the stride and stature of their favourite jumbo. Sivasundar was their pride. Many used to visit Thrissur Pooram just to watch him. After Guruvayur Kesavan, no other elephant has enjoyed so much stardom. There were documentaries made on him. People admired his beauty, obedience and dignity. With his long, well-shaped trunk, broad and raised head and majestic posture, Sivasundar stole thousands of hearts.

A moving tribute was given to Sivasundar when the body was kept for public viewing on March 11. People sobbed inconsolably as they kissed the mortal remains.

It was almost 45 years ago that the one-year-old baby elephant, along with his mother, was caught from the forests of Vellikulangara. The forest officials took him to the Kodanad elephant camp for training. Later, he was handed over to timber merchant Pookodan Francis and got the name ‘Pookkodan Sivan’.

Sivan worked at the timber factory and was paraded for festivals alternatively. In 2003, Thrissur-based NRI businessman Sundar Menon bought him at a fancy price of ₹28 lakh and presented him to the Thiruvambadi temple as an offering to the deity. Ever since, it is Sivasundar who has been carrying Thiruvambadi deity’s idol for the Thrissur Pooram.

“I can’t imagine a Thrissur Poooram without Sivasundar. We grew up watching him. He was not just an elephant for us, but a passion and pride,” said a group of teenagers, who were trying to resist tears as they stood beside the body of Sivasundar.

He was gentle even during musth, recalls its mahout Kollangode Chandran. Sivasundar had won many titles such as Mathanga Sreshta Panchananan, Kalabha Kesari and Gaja Kesari. Sadly, he was reduced to skin and bone after the 67 days of severe constipation and treatment.


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Printable version | May 21, 2022 3:00:21 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sivasundar-a-legend-vanishes/article23281883.ece