Temples, Beware of those professional poachers!

Manakula Vinayagar Temple warned on elephant issue - The Hindu

Lakshmi, temple elephant of Manakula Vinayagar temple in Puducherry, is in the news. She is the latest elephant to be deprived of the care of her paugan as well as the pride of place in the temple. Earlier, three Kanchi elephants Indu, Jayanti and Sandhya were snatched in 2016. Masini elephant of Samayapuram temple was also threatened by animal activists to be returned to sanctuary in September 2018. Raghu, a 3 year old elephant was abandoned by its herd, was forced to return to forest, but was luckily saved and returned to safety of the camp. In December 2019, Gomathy, the Thiruvidaimarudur temple elephant was targeted by animal activists but luckily saved and returned to wildlife camp. The latest target is Lakshmi. The next are Andal of Sri Rangam temple and Kothai of Sriperumpudur temple. 

Just because they are revered by Hindus, cows and elephants are on the hit-list of anti-Hindu and Breaking India forces. Go-Pooja (Cow worship), Nandi Pooja (Temple Bull worship), Gaja Pooja (Elephant worship) and Aswa Pooja (Horse worship) are performed from time immemorial in Tamilnadu temples. These are considered so sacred that the people wouldn't dare harm them even if the animal is in rage. As the presiding deity is considered as a ruler of the town as in Madurai and in Thiruvananthapuram, he is given all the respects that a Maharaja would receive. This is the reason why ownership of the lands and revenue around the temple are in the name of the deity, legal entity. There are many epigraphs in Tamilnadu temples recording that the king’s endowment of cows, elephants and horses for upkeep of the temple premises and to ensure six hourly pooja without let up. Of the above, Aswa pooja (horse pooja) is generally outworn and it is replaced by a terracotta horse. 

Animal Activists and Animal Protection NGOs next target the elephants, bulls and cows. With the failure to target bulls during Jallikattu campaign, their next prey is the elephant. Elephant rearing in temples is an age old practice. The bond between mahout and elephant is not a master-slave relation as the Western and leftist activists define. Real time stories abound in Kerala and Tamilnadu about their emotional bond. When a temple elephant dies, the entire town or village comes and pays respects. A well known example is the saga of Guruvayoor temple elephant Kesavan. He is glorified and worshipped even after its demise.

There are wild elephants and domestic elephants. Both get adapted to the habitat in which they are born and brought up. "Forests are the only natural habitat of elephants" is just the cliched animal activist cry. People who have not lovingly fed an apple to an elephant masquerade as animal rescuers. Elephants are the new dogs for these activists when it comes to funding. There are many crowdfunding sites in which these activists capture photos of elephants in temple in manipulated angles and beg for funds under the pretext of rescue. 

PETA, which is known for mercy killing of dogs operated hand-in-glove with these foreign funded NGOs takes stock of elephants in temple care and files a petition for rescue. Using money power and with the connivance's of local authorities, they snatch the elephants from the mahouts and temples. The elephant is then left in an unknown territory or habitat, without regular care of mahout and surroundings, it only deteriorates in health. 

It is a proven fact that the life time of domestic elephants under mahout care is more than the wild elephants. A mahout is called a paugan, meaning a part of elephant's life. They are simply one soul in two bodies. There might be fallouts in the way elephants are taken care of. That needs scrutiny by authorities but not complete rustication. Elephant rearing is an age old tradition in Tamilnadu which is handed down more in a Gurukula ambiance. With a steadily declining wild elephant number, temples and mahouts are the only way out to revive and catch up with the dying tuskers. Our ancestors termed domestic animals as Kaalnadai Selvam (four legged wealth) and that wealth should not be left to dwindle due to the greed of self proclaimed animal activists.

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