TAMIL NADU

Meenakshi Temple elephant runs amok

MADURAI, AUG. 1. Tension prevailed on the busy Khazimar Street here when a seven-year-old elephant belonging to the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple ran amok today.

The elephant, `Parvathi', gave some anxious moments to the residents and shopkeepers in the area and it took more than an hour for the temple authorities to bring the pachyderm under control. However, it damaged the compound wall of the Tamil Nadu Police Housing Colony.

It was a usual routine to take the elephant to the weighbridge on the South Veli Street to keep a record of its weight. Today too, the elephant, accompanied by the veterinary doctor, John Batcha, and the mahout, Lakshmanan, was taken to the weighbridge when the elephant got "excited" at the sound of a passing-by tractor.

It got wild and started running into the alley adjacent to the Tamil Nadu Police Housing Colony and tried to scale the compound wall dashing with its legs. The wall came down instantly. Even as the mahout tried to calm it, the pachyderm turned and attempted to barge into the group of houses, forcing the public to run helter-skelter. The mahout, with the assistance of some onlookers, brought the elephant under control.

This incident sent shivers down the spine of the residents of the area, as they were aware of elephants going berserk in at least a couple of occasions in Kerala causing damage to property, besides causality. However, the mahout acted in time to calm down the `gentle' giant.

"Parvathi was donated to our temple only three years ago. It often gets excited and since it is very young, the elephant loses its temper easily. Today also it got provoked at the noise that came from the tractor and ran amok," says P. Baskaran, the Joint Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department and Executive Officer, Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.

Though the elephant escaped unscathed, the mahout sustained some minor bruises on his hand when he tried to bring it under control. "It is now calmness at `Yanai Mahal'. The veterinary doctor is monitoring the condition of the elephant," he said.

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