Thrissur temple introduces mechanical elephant for performing rituals

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Robot elephant Raman | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Thrissur: In a first in Kerala, a life-like mechanical elephant was on Sunday dedicated to the deity in a temple near here for performing daily rituals from now on, instead of a real pachyderm.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India joined hands with award-winning actor Parvathy Thiruvothu, and held the 'Nadayiruthal' ceremony of 'Irinjadappilly Raman', a robotic elephant, at Sree Krishna Temple near Irinjalakuda in the district.

PETA said Raman will help conduct ceremonies at the temple in a safe and cruelty-free manner and thereby supports real elephants' rehabilitation and lives in forests and end the horror of captivity for them.

"An inaugural ceremony held today was followed by a performance by the percussion ensemble led by Peruvanam Satheesan Marar. Subjecting live elephants to the extreme loudness of the timpani is cruel, as it is damaging and distressing for live elephants," PETA said in a release.

Thiruvothu said these days we have access to understanding what animals are forced to endure when humans use them for entertainment.

"It's high time we made stronger and more impactful strides towards stopping such abuse and letting animals have respectful and dignified lives... I am delighted to support PETA India in helping Sree Krishna Temple worshippers experience the joy and sanctity of religious functions in an exciting, modern, and conscientious manner," she was quoted in the release.

Head priest of the temple Rajkumar Namboothiri said they were "extremely happy and grateful" to receive the mechanical elephant which will help them to conduct rituals and festivals in a cruelty-free manner and hoped that other shrines also consider replacing live elephants for rituals.

PETA claimed most elephants in captivity in the country, including in Kerala, are being held illegally or have been transported to a different state without permission.

The frustration of captivity leads elephants to develop and display abnormal behaviour, PETA said, adding that, at their wit's end, frustrated elephants often snap and try to break free, running amok and so harming humans, other animals, and property.

"According to figures compiled by the Heritage Animal Task Force, captive elephants killed 526 people in Kerala in a 15-year period. Thechikkattukavu Ramachandran, who has been in captivity for about 40 years and is one of the most often used elephants in Kerala's festival circuit, has reportedly killed 13 individuals – six mahouts, four women, and three elephants," the release said.

PETA urged all venues and events using elephants to switch to lifelike mechanical elephants or other means in place of real elephants.

It also called for retiring elephants already in captivity to sanctuaries where they can live unchained and in the company of other elephants, healing psychologically and physically from the trauma of years of isolation, captivity, and abuse. PTI

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