Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dasara Elephants

Dasara festival ws one festival that i really used to wait for as a kid... in the southern part of karnataka, dasara is celebrated with so much grandure! and the city of mysore is invariably associated with the vijayadashami festival.. the caprisioned elephants and the golden howda and the maharaja and the palace and the jamboo savari!!!i was born in the city and we lived very close to the palace.. just two streets off the palace actually the area is called shankarmutta..for us dasara was all about elephants..a month before the jamboo savari elephants from nagarahole and bandipoor was brought to mysore..and they were all stationed at the mysorepalace. but they had to be washed daily and for that the elephants were to be taken to karangikere.. a lake closedby..the elephants were walked on the tankbud 'yeri' as we used to call it to the lake... and this was a morning ritual...our schools used to be closed for the dasara holidays one full month unlike a 10 day break these days. and every morning we (me and my friends a considerable gang) we user to wait at the edge of the yeri.. at times we used to pilfer a banana or a piece of jaggery to feed the elephants... and lo behold the elephants used to walk rythemically with the bells around their necks.. it generally used to be in the decending order... the huge drona the first the remaining female follwing drona or may be it was balarama.. who was then a kid.. there were others too shoba bahadur arjuna and shanti.. guess i dont get the names of the others...and calves were the last of them... they were soo playfull.. the mahavuts had a greast time with the claves.. they were so much like babies... too curious and at times venturing out to the very peripheri of the yeri... and what an excitement!! what great fun we used to have looking at these gentle gaints... i wonder if they have the same practicfe these days toothings have changed.. i did be really surprised if i get to knw that karangikere is still a functioning lake.. and has been spared by land sharks... and the yeri must be soo busy these days that elephants might not be able to even tread let alone leisurly pace through...and the mighty Drona is so more there.. he was electricuted in 1998...oh! it has been so many years since we last saw him with the howda... i miss him every time i see the jamboo savari....balarama the current bearer or the howda is fine but i feel he is shorter than Drona.. and he is supposed to be a little short tempered and unruly at times too... Drona was so docile and he ws soo used to crowd that he seemed to be at ease both in the rainforests and the mysore city jamboo savari...and mind u... not all elephants are eligible to carry the howda.. it is an elephantine task in itself.... the caparisioned elephant will have to carry the 750 kilo howda for a stretch of 4 kilometers from palace to bannimantap.... so the choosen elephant will have to be sturdy and it has to have a certain body figure too.. a broad back .i miss dear drona ... after him there was this unlucky elephant called arjuna... through he was as good as drona, he was rendered ineligible for the jamboo savari after he accidentally killed his mahavut. i pity him.. he is now confined to the forests.. but then it is good for him right .. far away from the madding crowd .. leading the life of a recluse... how i wish to go back to the dasara drona balarama and bahadoor... to shanti and all of them...i with them all a long life... unfortunately i cant wish drona a long life but definitely peace to his soul.. i m sure he is listening

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