Friday, November 25, 2011


Guruvayoor Kesavan
In Kerala literally  by the term 'Sahyante Makan'  elephants are referred to.Sahyante Makan means the 'Son of Sahyan' which is 'Sahya Mountain or 'Western Ghats  which extends to near the border of  Gujarat and Maharashtra  and runs through Maharashtra,Goa,Karnataka,TamilNadu, and Kerala ending at Kanya Kumari.
In the western Ghats forests there are elephants dwelling in the Karnataka range and Kerala range of forests and in the Karnataka range they are more.Everybody knows that the biggest animal on land is Elephant and that in the ocean is Blue whale.
We Keralites are happy and proud that the biggest animal on earth, the Elephant is also  taking birth and lives in natural habitat in the forest of Kerala.Even though the Official animal of India Tiger is also in Kerala forests only Elephants are called by the term 'Sahyante Makan(Son of Sahya Mountain).There are so many tamed Elephants possessed by the  citizens and  Government  departments like the Travancore Devaswom Board etc.In all the important  temples of Kerala owned by Devaswom Board  there is  for sure   an Elephant each and Mahouts are employed also  to look after them.For the different functions in the temples they are used. The temple Deity is taken on the Elephant in a procession which is known as 'Ezhunnellathu'.For the annual temple festival several elephants are used which are usually brought from other nearby temples.The adorned Elephants with 'Nettipattam' Venchamaram' 'Aalavattam' 'Muthukkuda-( which are colored umbrellas' )etc add pageantry and  majesty to the procession.
There are mainly two varieties of Elephants on the Globe,  Asian Elephants and African Elephants.The Asian Elephants are also  called as Indian Elephants .There are several differences between African Elephants and Indian Elephants.For the African Elephants both the males and females  have tusks where as in Indian Elephants    only male Elephants have tusks.The African variety are comparatively  bigger in size and  have peculiar shape like the difference of their ears..The Indian elephants are more beautiful and attractive and can be tamed easily.
It is said that a grown up elephant has the  intelligence equal to a 5-6 year old human boy but some Elephants proved that they got much more brains like 'Guruvayoor Kesavan', an Elephant which was kept at Guruvayoor temple of Kerala.
There is a saying in Malayalam that 'Aanaye kandum kadalu kandum kothi theerilla'  means people are very fond of watching the Ocean and Elephant for a long time without feeling bored.Elephants are used for Christian festivals also in processions and Muslim festivals like 'Chandana kudam Mahotsavam' and Elephants are a common sight any where in Kerala, at Villages and cities alike.But then also when the sound of an elephant chain is heard people sitting indoors also come out to watch the Elephant passing by.
The Elephants with its long trunks,two lengthy tusks,pillar like legs,round shaped body etc  has other  unique features. The long trunk is its nose but it has several uses which help the elephant as a hand.It is very strong and very flexible.The tip of the trunk has lip like parts  by which it can take even a small pin  from the ground.For drinking water also the trunks are used which draws up to 14 litres  of water at a time  which it pours in the mouth and drinks.Elephants takes water in the trunk and spray it on its body to remove the heat and  to be cool.After wards it will take soil and spread it also on its body which also helps it to keep cool.The Elephant will fan its ears  which also helps their body to be cool and we can judge that the Elephant is in a pleasant mood if it moves its ears constantly.There are 108 sensitive  areas on the body of an Elephant and by  applying some pressure
 or beat that part with stick or pull such parts with a pole the Elephant will feel tremendous pain and will obey the orders of the Mahouts.The Mahouts knows around 10 such parts only and controls the Elephant by exerting some pressure on such parts.A good tusker should keep its head high, should have nicely formed long tusks,18 or 20 nails in total and its trunk should touch the ground and  also  some other features  are checked when an Elephant is bought.There were some eminent and rich families in Kerala who kept Elephants in their yard just because they  loved  them and  to get  prestige from the society as an owner of Elephant.But today mainly people keep them as an income source.

In the forest it eats several types of plants,grass,bamboo leaves and tender stems etc but in captivity they are fed on coconut leaves and palm leaves which they  are very fond of.Cooked rice is  also given to them and as  for treatment  and to protect its health  several types of cooked grains and herbs are given to them during one full month annually and allow them to take rest also during those days..
The tusks of the Indian elephants grows 2-3 inches every year and needs to be trimmed in three or four years.In Kerala and Karnataka Elephants are not captured now since their  number are diminishing in the forests. Elephants from Bihar State are bought and  brought to Kerala for our needs now.
Elephants some times becomes very violent mostly because of handling them rude by the cruel Mahouts.
Generally  they are very gentle and understanding  type animals with a lot of patience also.
Elephants have very good memory.There is a famous story with regard to this statement.Once a teen age boy threw a stone to an Elephant  just for fun and ran away.The Elephant felt pain, he saw the boy and recognized him but could not do any revenge.He took the same stone which hit him  and kept it in his mouth.When eating food and drinking water it removed the stone and afterwards again put it back in the mouth.The Mahout noticed this habit of the Elephant but did not understand any thing regarding  that.The Elephant got chance after three years only when he saw the same old boy standing  near him when a temple function was going on..He took out the stone and threw it hard on the boy which made serious injury for him.When  asked about this the boy revealed that he threw the elephant three years back and the Mahout disclosed  the fact that  the Elephant  was carrying the stone with him for the last three years to do that revenge.

The stories related to elephants are non ending.The Official animal of Kerala is Elephant.

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