18 February 2011

Bath Time

Right click on all photographs to see enlarged version

Today was the first time in a while that I've visited Arunachaleswarar Temple. I started off at the old office, and took a nice photograph of an 1856 drawing of the Temple and mountain that was on the wall of the office.

On my way out of the Temple compound stopped off at the gokulam, home of the Temple cows and calves. Luckily it was time for Rukku's (the Temple Elephant) bath. So stopped and enjoyed her delight in getting a long hard scrub and wash down by her three minders.

As is apparent from my earlier postings of Rukku, I don't agree that highly intelligent, familial, social creatures such as elephants should be ripped from their natural homes and be kept prisoner in zoos, circuses or Temples. To get a better idea of Rukku's life check out my earlier posting here and a narrative about the life of Temple Elephants here and of Elephant cruelty here.

However it was evident from Rukku's enjoyment that bath time is definitely a treasured highlight of her day. So I appreciated the opportunity to observe this sweet elephant's delight.

Her three minders did their work with gusto and were obviously expert in finding all those itchy places that needed a good scrub.

I totally believe she was hamming it up for the camera. They say that elephants have an extraordinary memory and maybe sweet Rukku was rewarding me for all those carrots and cabbages I've brought for her in the past.

There was a time when Rukku's mahout would bring her to a water tank on the Chengam Road in Ramana Nagar, where she would daily enjoy full immersion and scrub down inside the deep waters of the tank. Nowadays not only have her treats become restricted but also her personal space has shrunk to a tiny sandpit in which she is forced to stand endlessly day after day begging for money in her trunk after placing it on the heads of visiting pilgrims.

I've been told that Temples endeavour to get female elephants that aren't the brightest, because smart elephants cannot tolerate the boredom, lack of exercise and isolation from their own kind without going absolutely mad . . . and Temple elephants going berserk happens much more than realised.

I'm praying that the next Tamil Nadu Chief Minister gets re-involved with all the good work started by Jayalalitha and her mission to ensure that Temple Elephants in this State have fastly improved lives -- including a yearly six week holiday in the forests and jungles.

Well the bath is over and now a nice snack of Ragi Balls.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog. Wish I am blessed too to visit the Holy Arunachala soon.