Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple in Kerala’s Thrissur district has created history by accepting an electric elephant. This mechanical animal weighs 800 kilograms and is 10-and-a-half feet in height.
Named Irinjadappilly Raman, this elephant was gifted to the temple by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India.
What makes this development welcome and relevant is that there have been vociferous calls to stop using captive elephants for temple rituals, and free them from the torture of standing for hours and be part of huge processions.
கேரளாவில் உள்ள இரிஞ்சாலக்குடை கோயிலில் 10 அடி உயரமும் 800 கிலோ எடையுள்ள ரோபா யானை, பயன்பாட்டுக்கு வந்துள்ளது…#RoboticElephant pic.twitter.com/uU96rgvmyq
— Sridharan K (@reportersridhar) February 27, 2023
Following this news, a day later the Aluva Thiruvairanikulam Mahadeva Temple made the headlines as its management committee decided to use a wooden palanquin instead of an elephant for the deity procession. This move was widely appreciated by animal lovers. The decision was taken to avoid making the elephants suffer the scorching heat they are subjected to during the procession.
Interestingly this temple had used a chariot for the last two years instead of an elephant. One of the temple committee members pointed out that nowhere in the scriptures is it written that an elephant should be used.
The move to free elephants started in 2018 when Alappuzha district’s Nalppathenneeswaram Sree Mahadeva Temple instead of the captive caparisoned elephants, used wooden structure to mount the idols of deities. This practice was followed by the Kanichukulangara Temple in the same district.
Raman the robotic elephant has triggered a huge debate about the practice of using these animals for temple rituals and ceremonies. Animal lovers and organisations have welcomed it while the traditionalists and elephant owners feel it is against the culture of the land.
There have been several incidents of elephants being tortured and goaded with banned weapons. Many times the suffering animals have gone berserk causing grievous injury to people.