Mysuru: Abhimanyu begins weight training for jumbo savari
As the count down has begun for Mysuru Dasara festivities, training for veteran elephant Abhimanyu to carry 750-kg golden howdah weight began at Mysuru Palace on Thursday, who will carry 750-kg historical golden howdah housing the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari during jumbo savari on Vijayadashami on 26 October
Mysuru: As the count down has begun for Mysuru Dasara festivities, training for veteran elephant Abhimanyu to carry 750-kg golden howdah weight began at Mysuru Palace on Thursday, who will carry 750-kg historical golden howdah housing the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari during jumbo savari on Vijayadashami on 26 October.
Standing 2.68 meter tall and 3.51 meter long, 54-year-old Abhimanyu, who weighs over 5000 kg walked with majestically carrying a sandbag, along with other elephants Vikrama, Gopi, Cauvery and Vijaya on Thursday morning.
To begin with Abhimanyu was trained to carry 350 kg sandbag on Thursday morning. After a small pooja, a steel cradle was tied to Abhimanyu over the cushion of Namda (made of coconut fibre), Gaadi (made of hey straw), Chaapu (made of coconut fibre). And sandbags were placed in the cradle. The weight of the sandbag will be slowly increased gradually to match the weight of 750-kg golden howdah. Next week he will be trained to carry wooden howdah, according to veterinarian in-charge of Dasara elephants, Dr D N Nagaraj.
Dr Nagaraj said, "Abhimanyu has been participating in Dasara for the past 21 years. For the past 18 years, he has been trained to carry wooden howdah and sand bags weighing 750 kgs along with that year's respective howdah carrying elephant for 4.8km long regular Vijayadashami Jumbo savari procession route from Mysuru Palace courtyards to Bannimantap grounds. Now due to Covid pandemic, the jumbo savari is restricted to over 270 meters in front of the palace, within the palace kote (compound). So since training of elephants too is restricted to about one and half kms around Mysuru Palace, Abhimanyu carried weight with ease. He started at 8.45am and finished two rounds of walk by 9.45am," he said.
Besides special treat of nutritious food for festival elephants their mahouts and kaavaadis (assistant caretakers) too are being treated to food of their choice.
DCF Mr Alexander M G said, "Every year, families of mahouts and kaavaadis too arrived and stayed at Mysuru Palace courtyards, so the ration was provided to individual families and each family cooked food for themselves. But this year owing to Covid, their families have not been allowed to come. So the caretakers of elephants are being treated to eggs daily and chicken twice a week," he said.
"We have fixed CC cameras to keep a watch on Abhimanyu and four other ceremonial elephants. We want the elephants and their families to complete the task of Dasara jumbo savari and return to their respective forest camps," Mr Alexander said.
'Why spend `15 crore?'
Meanwhile historian Prof Nanjraj Urs, questioned the need for spending Rs 15 crores for scaled-down Dasara. He urged the State government to keep Dasara a symbolic affair and use the money to help Covid-19 patients who are dying unable to afford higher care.