Blessings By An Elephant

Don’t be surprised if you are confronted by elephants in temples of Tamil Nadu. These elephants are trained animals, trained to even bless you. They are decorated and displayed during festivals. Their routine work would include carrying and transferring heavy loads and sometimes idols too within temple complex.
One of the daily activities of these mute mammoth animals would be to bless visitors and collect money. The elephants are decorated with Bhasma, the three horizontal lines on the forehead indicates it is a devotee of Lord Shiva. The mahout stands close to them. Children visiting temples find it exciting and fun to get blessed by the elephants. They queue up in front of these elephants, the elephants extend the trunk like upturned palm towards them. As soon as the coin is placed on the trunk, it would swing the trunk to the mahout and pass the coin to him. Then it would place the trunk on their heads and lo! they are blessed. Adults too wait patiently for their turn.
I just didn’t like the idea of these mahouts making an earning out of these mute animals, so I sent my daughters with bunches of bananas. To our astonishment and disappointment, the elephant happily ate the bananas but did not do the act of blessing.The selfish Humans have successfully trained these mute animals to be money minded.My daughters made a second trip, this time armed with coins!



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Ekambaranathar Temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
Descent of Ganga and Arjuna's Penance, Mahabalipuram

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