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Dasara elephants heading back to the jungle

Special Correspondent

The gentle giants were given a ceremonial send-off

Photo: M.A.Sriram

BYE BYE TILL NEXT YEAR: Elephants being transported to the wild on Thursday after the Dasara festival.

MYSORE: For the gentle giants who stole the thunder during the Dasara celebrations, it was time to return to their jungle camps.

Led by Balarama, the 12 elephants that covered themselves with glory during their 45-day sojourn in the city, were given a ceremonial send-off here on Thursday.

The elephants made a silent retreat to the jungles of Nagarahole where they will get down to the task of jungle patrol and assist the Forest Department personnel in their duties.

The elephants that arrived here in August to a warm welcome were stationed in the palace courtyard and acclimatised to the nature of city life. And it did not take long for them to adjust for these elephants are veterans in their own right, each having participated in the Mysore Dasara many times. And given their elephantine memory, it was only a matter of time to come to grips with the demands of the ceremonial events.

And having completed the "Jamboo Savari," which drew lakhs of people to the streets on Monday, without a hitch the elephants made a silent retreat from the Bannimantap Grounds to the palace premises in the silence of the night for a well-deserved rest and spent time rollicking in the pond. The pachyderms departure from the city was preceded by a ceremonial worship offered to them by the temple priest who performed "mangalaarti" and prayed for their well-being.

Vedic chants rent the air as a temple priest applied turmeric and "kumkum" to each of the 12 elephants all of whom raised their trunks as if to offer their blessings, following which they were treated to sugarcane and jaggery.

The mahouts and the Kavadis were given Rs.1,000 each in appreciation of their services for the smooth conduct of Dasara.

After the prayers and the sugarcane treat, the elephants assembled on the lawns of the palace and obliged the officials and the Forest Department personnel as also a few sundry tourists for a photo opportunity before stepping onto the trucks that carried them in batches to their natural habitat.

And the palace seemed to mourn their departure.

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