Forest officials begin process to select successor for Golden Howdah carrying Abhimanyu
Mysore/Mysuru: The process to select the successor for Golden Howdah carrying Abhimanyu has begun and the Forest Department officials have decided to bring in five new elephants for this year’s Dasara Jumbo squad. The successor of Abhimanyu will be carrying the 750 kg weighing Golden Howdah during the ‘Jumboo Savari’ after three years.
The Forest Department has the responsibility to strengthen the Dasara jumbo squad for Dasara Mahotsava in future. As the first step, the Forest Department has begun its quest for the same. However, the decision by the Forest Department would be known only after July 25.
There is no alternate elephant for Abhimanyu
From the early days, an alternate elephant was being trained along with the Golden Howdah carrying elephant and used to be decorated to take part in the ‘Jumboo Savari.’
When Drona was carrying the Golden Howdah, Balarama was trained, when Balarama was carrying the Golden Howdah, Arjuna was trained and during Arjuna’s tenure, Abhimanyu was trained as the alternate elephant. But now, no elephant has been identified to be trained along with Abhimanyu.
It is the jumbos which add colour to Dasara Procession and a few had raised objections over the usage of elephants in ‘Jumboo Savari.’ Since it is a tradition for elephants to take part in Dasara, those who had objected became silent and the Supreme Court, after collecting the opinions of veterinarians and experts, gave a green signal but with an order of not to put weight on elephants aged 60 years and above, which is being strictly followed.
Normally, elephants weigh from 4,200 to 5,800 kg weight and have the capacity to carry about 1,000 kg weight. But they need training to move between crowds and get used to sound and noise. For the elephant to carry the 750 kg weighing Golden Howdah, the back of the elephant should be level, should have slender tusks, should look majestic and only if the elephant has all these qualities, it would be selected and provided training.
Five new elephants this year
Speaking to SOM, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Dr. V. Karikalan said that for this year’s Dasara festivities which will be held in a grand manner, 15 elephants should be brought.
The first batch of Dasara Jumbos should be brought from various elephant camps to Mysuru 55 days before the commencement of Dasara festivities and should be trained to familiarise them ‘Jumboo Savari’ route from Mysore Palace to Bannimantap.
Weight carrying exercise will also be taken up and the weight will be increased gradually during the training to prepare them for the grand finale. This apart, to get the Dasara jumbo squad acclimatised to sound, canon firing drill will be held in their presence along with the horses from the Mounted Police battalion. Out of 15 elephants, which will be brought this year, five are new elephants, the DCF said.
He further said that due to outbreak of COVID pandemic, only five elephants were brought in the last two years and the ‘Jumboo Savarai’ was limited to the Palace premises. “As it has been decided to celebrate Dasara in a grand manner this year, 15 elephants will be brought to Mysuru and will be given training,” the DCF added.
Over 115 elephants in camps
There are more than 115 elephants that are housed in various elephant camps. Prominent elephants are brought from elephant cams in Thithimathi in Nagarahole and surrounding elephant camps like Dubare Elephant Camp in Kodagu and Rampura Elephant Camp in Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
“The health check-up of elephants will begin from July 15 and a list of elephants will be prepared. Selection process will be completed by July 30 and selected elephants will be brought to Mysuru in batches from the first week of August,” he explained.