Ending weeks of suspense over the participation of controversial tusker Thechikottukavu Ramachandran in the Thrissur Pooram festivities, the Thrissur district administration Saturday gave its approval Saturday afternoon, but laying out specific conditions for the same.
The 54-year-old tusker, blind in one eye, has for the past several years has been a permanent fixture of the popular Thrissur Pooram festival where he signals the start of celebrations by opening the southern door of the Vadakumnathan Temple on the eve of the Pooram. However, this year a ban was imposed on him by the Chief Wildlife Warden after two people were killed in a housewarming ceremony involving the tusker in Guruvayur in February this year. A medical team that visited the elephant post the incident had termed it physically unfit.
However, there has been a great clamour among elephant fans and the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation for the ban to be swatted aside so that he could once again be a part of the festivities. Up until the last moment, the district administration and the forest department had indicated that the ban could not be reversed as parading the elephant, which has a violent side, could wreak disaster especially when there are thousands of people involved. The elephant owners’ collective threatened to not allow any of it’s member elephants for public temple festivals if Ramachandran’s ban was not reversed.
Read | Kerala elephant owners say no to parading tuskers from May 11; Thrissur Pooram festivities in disarray
On Saturday morning, a team of expert medical officials inspected the elephant and submitted a report to the district collector attesting his fitness. A few hours later, Thrissur Collector TV Anupama gave a conditional clearance to the elephant’s public parading. The elephant may be allowed to be paraded between 9:30 am and 10:30 am on Sunday, the eve of Pooram. There must be barricades separating the elephant and the public and at all times there should be four mahouts accompanying the tusker.
Thrissur Pooram is scheduled on Monday, May 13.