Thousands bid tearful adieu to beloved Arjuna
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Thousands bid tearful adieu to beloved Arjuna

December 6, 2023

Mysore/Mysuru: Thousands of people bid adieu to the Dasara elephant Arjuna yesterday at Dabballikatte in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district, where its last rites were performed with State Honours. 

Arjuna died on Monday in a fight with a wild elephant, during an operation to capture the wild elephants at Yeslur Range in Hassan District. With the last rites, the magnificent era of Arjuna, who carried the Golden Howdah eight times during Dasara came to an end. 

Even as the news broke about Arjuna’s tragic death on Monday, hundreds of people came to see the final resting place of the illustrious elephant. The crowd swelled yesterday and many came from Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Mysuru and Kodagu to pay their homage.

Grief-stricken crowd

The last rites were conducted with traditional rituals and a gun salute, making the State Honours. S.V. Prahlad Rao, a priest from the Mysore Palace, conducted the rituals. The carcass was garlanded and flower petals were showered on it. As a mark of respect, three rounds were fired in the air. A portion of the land was dug by an earthmover and the body was lowered to the pit and later covered with mud.

Prior to burial, Arjuna’s tusks were extracted and are currently under the secure care of the Forest Department. The Mahouts, Kavadis and their families, who had devoted years to caring for Arjuna, were overcome with grief. 

Vinu, Arjuna’s mahout, was visibly distraught, weeping and attempting to rouse the tusker, eliciting a shared emotional response from the onlookers. The disbelief that Arjuna was gone weighed heavily on him. Forest officials found themselves grappling to suppress their own tears in the face of the poignant scene.

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Earlier in the day, villagers and members of various associations held a protest, urging Forest Department officials to carry out Arjuna’s last rites in a more suitable location at Balle Elephant Camp where it was spending its retired life. They voiced demands for the suspension of officers deemed responsible for Arjuna’s death during the operation. The Police had to resort to lathi charge to disperse the angry mob.

Mysuru Additional Deputy Commissioner R. Lokanath placed a wreath on Arjuna, as a mark of respect from the Mysuru District Administration. Hassan Deputy Commissioner C. Satyabhama, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Project Elephant) Saswati Mishra, Chief Conservator of Forests R. Ravishankar, SP Mohammad Sujeetha, Deputy Conservator of Forests D. Mohan Kumar and others were present.

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