Updated: September 17, 2021 7:43:19 am
As many as eight tuskers, led by 55-year-old Abhimanyu, were welcomed Thursday to the Mysuru palace ahead of the ten-day Dasara celebrations beginning October 7.
As per the decision taken by the Dasara executive committee, the elephants were received with traditional honours at the Jayamarthanda Gate of the palace, also officially commencing the countdown to the beginning of the state festival.
8 elephants, led by 55-year-old tusker Abhimanyu, reached Mysuru Palace 21 days ahead of #MysoreDasara. Usually welcomed grandly 45 days before Dasara begins, this is the second year they are brought in a low-key manner due to #Covid19. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/JVhS1JkmE2
— Ralph Alex Arakal (@ralpharakal) September 16, 2021
The number of elephants taking part in the festivities was minimised to eight this year, based on the state government’s decision to keep the festivities low-key. While the festivities were not held grandly last year due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the government has cited the anticipation of a third wave as the reason behind a similar decision this year.
The other elephants who will be part of the festivities including the Jumbo Savari (elephant procession) — a highlight of the flagship cultural and religious festival of the state — are Gopalaswamy, Vikrama, Dhananjaya, Ashwathama, Kaveri, Chaitra, and Lakshmi.
Incidentally, Ashwathama — a debutant for the festivities — paused briefly as he panicked after seeing unfamiliar surroundings at the entrance of the palace. He was soon calmed by his mahout and his assistant after which he joined the other tuskers for the grand march to the palace.
As part of the ceremonial welcome, various prayers were held after offering sugarcane, jaggery, and coconut to the elephants before taking them to an open courtyard leading to Amba Vilas Palace. The elephants will remain in the same courtyard with their mahouts till the end of the festivities. The jumbos will undergo training from Friday with sandbags matching the weight of the golden howdah.
The elephants are usually brought to the palace premises 45 days before the commencement of Dasara. However, with the high-level committee clarifying that the tuskers do not need to be familiarised with the surroundings outside the palace, for which more days are required, they have been brought in just 21 days before the festival this time.
Till 2019, the grand procession of elephants carrying idols of deities including Sri Chamundeshwari was from Mysuru Palace to Bannimantap Grounds as opposed to it being limited to the palace premises.
Earlier on Monday, the Gajapayana (march of the elephants) was flagged off by Mysore-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha at Veerana Hosahalli on the outskirts of Nagarahole near Hunsur. The jumbos stayed at Aranya Bhavan till Thursday morning before they began approaching the palace for the grand welcome.
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