Batheri: The elephant stood all decked-up amid the sea of people. The idol of the goddess shone brightly over the beast’s imposing head with all the glittering paraphernalia. This was a new beast in Kerala’s famed temple festival circuits, except it was no beast at all.
Festival organizers at the Durga Bhagawati Temple at Kuppadi set a trend when they installed the idol over a life-size model of a caparisoned elephant. The mobile model came on a trolley fitted with a steering to negotiate the turnings on the way of the ritualistic parade.
The temple management opted for this unusual way of celebrating the annual festival to do away with all the legal hassles associated with parading a real elephant. Animal rights activism and a spate of incidents involving mobbed elephants have spurred the establishment to form strict regulations for parading elephants in public.
Since elephants were still an integral part of a temple festival in Kerala, the organizers thought of creating a model of the beast.
Help was at hand. Bhaskaran, who runs a modest shop in the village, offered to make the elephant out of everyday materials such as bamboo, sacks and Plaster of Paris (POP).
Bhaskaran has always been a part of the temple festival. He used to make still models for the festival parade every year. This year, his model was the center of attraction.
Temple committee president Rajeev Kumar and secretary Santhosh Babu, along with festival committee members Rajagopal and Lakshmanan, encouraged Bhaskaran to come up with his take on the elephant.
Elephants sell big time in Kerala, even if it is only a model. Bhaskaran’s creation is already being sought by festival organizers from the temples in the area.