Mysuru: Caparisoned elephant Abhimanyu would carry the 750-kg mini golden throne with the deity for a royal ride in the grand finale of the world-famous Mysuru Dasara festival in Karnataka on October 27 here, an official said on Wednesday.
"With senior jumbo Arjuna turning 60 and not allowed to carry heavy weights, 54-year-old Abhimanyu would lead the victory parade on October 27, marking the culmination of the 10-day Dasara fest, which begins on October 17," a state forest department official told IANS.
Though the ensuing grand event has been scaled down owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and to prevent large gatherings in public places, the state government has decided to hold the fest events within the sprawling Amba Vilas palace of the Wodeyar dynasty in the city centre.
As a city of palaces and cultural capital of the southern state, Mysuru is about 150km southwest of Bengaluru.
"As Abhimanyu is familiar with Dasara fest since it has been accompanying Arjuna and its elder Balarama earlier over the years, we hope it will carry the howda (mini throne) astride safely," forest deputy conservator M.G. Alexander said.
Five trained pachyderms Cauvery, Gopi, Harsha, Vikram and Vijaya will accompany Abhimanyu at the historic procession, marking the triumph of good over evil.
The family deity of the Wodeyar rulers is a replica of the Chamundeshwari temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess atop the hills on the city's outskirts.
In normal times, the victory parade on Vijayadashmi day is held from the palace to Bannimantap grounds through the city, covering a 5-km distance.
"Due to Covid-induced restrictions and to prevent the virus spread, the procession and various cultural programmes will not be held this time," said Alexander.
The five jumbos will be driven in trucks to Mysuru in the first week of October from Dubara elephant camp in Kushalnagar to acclimatise to the city environs.
As per the Supreme Court order and the central government's guidelines, elephants aged 60 years and above are banned from carrying heavyweights in ceremonies to avoid strain on their ageing body.
According to the mahout (caretaker) Vasanth, Abhimanyu, who weighs around 5,290 kg, accomplishes tasks entrusted to him without causing any trouble.
"Though Abhimanyu lives in the forest camp through the year, it has adjusted to stay in urban areas like Mysuru for some days in the company of other elephants," recalled Alexander.
As Abhimanyu has been participating in the Dasara procession since 1999, he is familiar with the festival activities, including rehearsals in the run-up to the victory parade in the finale. He is fed a special diet for the event.
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