A documentary maker named Sangita Iyer is on a mission to save the temple elephants in India that have been treated badly just for the sake of ceremony and also a celebration. All the elephants there experienced severe pain and a lot of bruises on their body because of the way they have been treated there.
Sangita Iyer was born in the Indian state of Kerala but now she lives in Toronto. She used to always watched a lot of ceremonial elephants being paraded and she always thought they were beautiful. Little that she knows, the animals have to face through a lot of suffering and torturing before they could do that performance. After she knows what exactly happens, she is determined to save them and set them free.
Sangita Iyer said, “So many elephants had ghastly wounds on their hips, massive tumors and blood oozing out of their ankles because chains had cut into their flesh and many of them were blind”. She has released a documentary titled “Gods in Shackles”. The reason for her to release the documentary is to open the eyes of the society on how these temple elephants have been treated in India. She also added, “They were so helpless and the chains were so heavy and it was absolutely heart-breaking for me to witness this”.
These are the several reasons why the temple elephants have been treated badly in India:
1) An Old Tradition
According to the Hindu and also Buddhist believes, they give elephants such an elevated status. For very long years, many temples and also monasteries have used elephants to perform the sacred duties there. Some of the devotees even seek blessings from these elephants. For some very well-known elephants, their reputation outlives their time on Earth. They have been a talking topic forever.
For example at Guruvayur Temple, there can be seen a life-size concrete statue of a much-loved elephant named Kesavan. The tusks of Kesavan adorn the entrance of the temple. Allegedly, Kesavan circled the Guruvayur Temple before collapsing and dying in 1976 at the age of 72. These people usually mourn the death of temple elephants.
2) A Lucrative Business
From the perspective of business, Sangita Iyer said that “Ceremonial elephants can bring in a lot of money to their owners. Some animals fetch more than $10,000 dollars per festival”. The money is usually paid by the festival organizers, local shop owners, and also landlords.
One of the elephants that have a huge reputation in business is the elephant named Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran, a captive elephant that is the tallest in Asia. Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran nowadays is already 56 years old and sadly he is also partially blind. He is truly the star attraction during the annual elephant parade in Thrissur and also owns his own Wikipedia Page. Unfortunately, all this fame does not bring any happiness for Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran because several times he had run amok due to apparent stress, and had killed two people last year that lead the local authorities to ban the use of festival elephants. After huge protests by the people, the ban was lifted.
Sangita Iyer added, “These animals were brutalized using vicious weapons like bullhooks, spiked chains and long polls with a poking spike that is used to poke elephants in their joints to trigger severe pain”.
3) A Holiday Camp For India’s Captive Elephants
An elephant named Ramabadran is an elephant that is in a dreadful condition and can’t be saved anymore. That particular elephant has been suggested for a mercy killing by the Animal Welfare Board of India. On the contrary, the elephant is used in temple ceremonies until now. “It was pathetic to watch this elephant dip its paralyzed trunk into a water tank”. Sangita Iyer also said. “It couldn’t scoop up water.”
Sources: BBC News .