Annual tuskers” race draws huge crowds

March 9th, 2009 - 2:51 pm ICT by ANI  

By Juhan Samuel
Guruvayur (Kerala), Mar 9 (ANI): Thousands of people thronged Kerala’’s Guruvayur Temple to watch the annual jumbo race.
Some 34 elephants lined up for the event from which ten were selected for the race which heralds the beginning of a ten-day festival in the temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The race began from a revered banyan tree and culminated with a 33-year-old tusker named Gopi Kannan, named after the temple deity winning the race.
Gopi Kannan raced past four other tuskers to enter the temple premises and went straight in to the sanctum sanctorum.
The winning elephant will have the privilege of carrying the idol for all the important rituals during the next ten days.
“In memory of that epoch making event, we are conducting elephant race every year. This is a remarkable event. This is a starting event of festival every year. This year Gopikannan came in the forefront and got the privilege of leading every seeveli (an important ritual) and other sacrifices in the temple in the next ten days,” said V Ratheesan, Guruvayur Temple administrator.
Foreign tourists said they were thrilled by the spectacle.
“It’’s really amazing because it is for the first time we have seen elephant race. It’’s exciting for us,” said Saira from Thailand.
The temple has some 65 elephants that take part in different festivals throughout the year. They are housed in a nearby park.
According to temple lore, a nearby feudal lord refused to send tuskers to participate in the annual festival as he did not receive payments in time. But that night the elephants broke their chains and rushed to the Guruvayur Temple. The annual elephant race commemorates that event. (ANI)

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