Route Rehearsal for Dasara Jumbos begins at Palace
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Route Rehearsal for Dasara Jumbos begins at Palace

October 3, 2020
  • COVID-19 test conducted for Mahouts, Kavadis
  • Special diet  for pachyderms from today
  • No march on Jumboo Savari route from Palace to Bannimantap

Mysore/Mysuru: A day after arriving in Mysore Palace, Dasara elephants led by Howdah-carrying elephant ‘Abhimanyu’ participated in a route rehearsal within the Palace premises this morning.

With hardly two weeks left for the inauguration of Dasara-2020, the activities were starting one by one despite celebrating this year’s Nada Habba in a simple manner due to COVID-19. After the rehearsal, the jumbos will be rested the whole day till tomorrow. Meanwhile, the passers-by and residents of the 5-km stretch of Jumboo Savari route from the Palace up to Bannimantap Torchlight Parade Grounds are missing the daily marching of the elephants as the procession is restricted only to Palace premises this time due to the pandemic.

Hundreds of people used to stand on both sides of the road to take the pictures of jumbos walking majestically on the Dasara procession route. The Police used to escort the pachyderms both in front and back to prevent people from going near them. 

But this time, the rehearsal is within the Palace premises and the total distance is hardly 500 meters. Since the jumbo walk is held in the morning no public will get an opportunity to see it.

Test conducted: Meanwhile, RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test are being conducted on the Mahouts, Kavadis and Assistants of Dasara jumbos and also for the attendants of elephants belonging to Mysore Palace. 

Besides, the cooks and veterinary doctors taking care of the elephants also underwent the twin tests this morning. 

District Health Officer (DHO) Dr. R. Venkatesh has given the nod to conduct two tests and has deputed health volunteers for the collection of throat swab. This time, officials of Forest Department were not ready to take any chance, as it will be difficult to find replacement for Mahouts. 

The area around Dasara elephant shelter in the Mysore Palace premises being disinfected this morning, in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic.

Mahouts reluctant to take twin tests

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Earlier, a few Mahouts were reluctant to take the twin tests contending that they stay in forests and do not contract any disease. 

Later, District Health Officer Dr. Venkatesh explained them it was a simple test and it was mandatory for them to undergo. 

DCF M.G. Alexander and Dr. D.N. Nagaraj too convinced the Mahouts. To instil confidence in them, a few Forest Department personnel voluntarily underwent Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) and RT-PCR tests. Among Mahouts, Vasantha came forward to undergo two tests.

Alexander said, though the Mahouts are hale and healthy, test is being conducted on them following guidelines from the Government of India. He later confirmed SOM that all the tests were reported negative.

Strong fortress

The entire area where make-shift camp is set up for the stay of Dasara elephants along with their Mahouts, Kavadis and assistants has been converted into a strong fortress and entry is restricted to general public. 

Metal barricades are put at two places where it will lead to the temporary camp. 

Police are posted at the entry points to prevent tourists and citizens from going near the elephants due to threat of pandemic. 

Unlike previous years, no one is allowed to go near the elephants to take selfie with them. The Mahouts, Kavadis and assistants have been strictly told not to leave the camp at any cost in the wake of spike in Corona positive cases in the city. Even they have been asked to maintain safe distancing with their fellow Mahouts of royal family since they stay in the same premises.

Throat swab being collected from one of the Mahouts at the Palace premises this morning to conduct COVID test. As per the Govt. of India guidelines, all the Mahouts and Kavadis, who have accompanied Dasara Jumbos, are made to undergo RAT and RT-PCR tests to rule out COVID.

Food catering

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Preventing them from going out, the Forest Department has arranged food catering to around 30-40 elephant caretakers from a local caterer, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) M.G. Alexander told Star of Mysore. 

Till last year, the Mahouts and Kavadis were bringing their family members to the city and they would cook for them in sheds. 

This time, as they have come here without families following the threat of Coronavirus, they are served coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch and dinner by the caterer. The lunch consists of ragi balls, rice, sambar, sweets, vegetable curry and curd. Personnel from the catering company will come to the Palace, serve them and return.

Special jumbo diet

Meanwhile, Dr. D.N. Nagaraj, a veterinary doctor of Dasara jumbos, said that special diet has been started for the elephants from this morning. A variety of greens, green grass, vegetables and a special variety of food prepared out of various cereals and pulses are served. Initially, it will be given in a small quantity and the quantity will  be increased later depending upon the capacity of each jumbo, he added.

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