Mysuru: With just a month or so left for the inauguration of Dasara festivities on Oct. 10, the first batch of Dasara elephants were accorded a traditional welcome at the Mysore Palace last evening. The welcome was accorded at the auspicious ‘Godhooli’ lagna between 4.30 pm and 6 pm.
The elephants had arrived in the city on Sunday from various jungle camps and had been housed at Aranya Bhavan (Forest Department office). Last evening, the elephants — Arjuna, Gopi, Vikrama, Dhananjaya, Varalakshmi and Chaitra — walked along the main thoroughfares of the city and were the cynosure of all eyes as people got on to the streets, stopped their vehicles and climbed on the terraces to look at these gentle giants.
A team of officials including the Palace staff and the Police band waited for the jumbos to arrive through the Jayamarthanda Gate to the main Palace complex and they were welcomed with a traditional arati followed by a round of prayers and chanting of hymns. The Police band played traditional tunes while folk artistes danced to the beats of the drums and cymbals. A ‘guard of honour’ was accorded by City Armed Reserve (CAR) Police personnel
As the elephants entered the Palace, ritualistic pujas commenced and flower petals were showered on the jumbos. As if to accept the welcome, the elephants raised their trunks at the precise moment. Priest Prahalad Rao and chief priest of Goddess Chamundeshwari temple at Chamundi Hill Shashishekar Dixit supervised the rituals.
Seeing the elephants, people and tourists thronged Jayamarthanda Gate to get a glimpse of the event. Elaborate security arrangements had been made around the elephants with the Commando wing of the city Police covering the area with rope preventing people from entering the particular area.
Higher Education and District Minister G.T. Devegowda, Hunsur MLA A.H. Vishwanath, Krishnaraja MLA S.A. Ramdas, Chamaraja MLA L. Nagendra, Nanjangud MLA B. Harshavardhan, ZP President Nayeema Sulthana, City Police Commissioner Dr. A Subramanyeswara Rao, Palace Board Deputy Director T.S. Subramanya and others were part of the reception team, who accompanied howdah elephant Arjuna and company to the main Palace courtyard.
The elephants were then led to the courtyard which will be their home till the completion of Dasara on Oct. 19. They will be joined by the second batch of another six elephants soon. The District Administration has made elaborate arrangements to house mahouts, kavadis and their families who will stay in the camps till the conclusion of the festivities.
A temporary school called the Tent School to ensure that the children of the mahouts and kavadis do not miss out on their classes has also been set up.
The Ayush Department has opened a temporary health facility for the tribal people, mahouts, kavadis and their family members. The unit will function till Oct. 20. Treatment for joint pain, cough, acidity, skin diseases will be offered at the centre. The centre will be open every day from 9 am to 4.30 pm and a doctor will be present there.
Jumbos wait for dignitaries
Though the Dasara elephants arrived as per schedule, the welcoming ceremony was delayed and the elephants had to wait near the Palace due to the delay in arrival of the Minister and MLAs. The ceremony was scheduled for 4.30 pm, but the VIPs arrived nearly 30 minutes late, keeping the elephants and the crowd waiting.
Dhananjaya reluctant to enter Palace
Dhananjaya, the 37-year-old elephant, who has all the attributes of becoming the Ambari elephant in future, refused to enter the Jayamarthanda Gate yesterday. Dhananjaya has been brought from Dubare elephant camp and before he was captured and tamed, he was a rogue, killing people and raiding standing crops.
While all the other five elephants entered the Jayamarthanda Gate, Dhananjaya dithered and stepped backwards, nodding and bending his head as if to signal his protest. Seeing this, mahout Bhaskar prodded Dhananjaya to obey and even pierced him with his Elephant Goad (Ankusha). Feeling the pain, Dhananjaya meekly obeyed.
Drones scare elephants
Drones scared the elephants and horses of the Mounted Police stationed inside the Palace. While one elephant turned, the others looked frightened and were restless giving some tough times to mahouts and kavadis. The drones were flying at a close range much to the discomfort of the pachyderms.
Two drones had been arranged to video record the elephant welcoming event at the Palace but the sound emitting from the flying machine frightened the elephants. The organisers later requested the drone operators not to fly the machines close to the elephants.