Indian temple goes cruelty free, replaces elephant with robot for rituals

The Irinjadappilly Sri Krishna Temple in Kerela's Thissur district was the first to use a mechanical, life-like elephant for rituals.

The Irinjadappilly Sri Krishna Temple in Kerela’s Thissur district was the first to use a mechanical, life-like elephant for rituals. PETA India gifted the elephant to the temple with the help of actor Parvathy Thiruvothu.

The 11-foot-tall ‘robotic elephant,” weighing 800 kg, is made of an iron frame with a rubber coating. It can carry around four people. The elephant’s head, eyes, mouth, ears, and tail all work on electricity.

The “elephant” has been given the name “Irinjadappilly Raman,” and a “Nadayiruthal” ceremony, which is a ritual in Kerala temples where elephants are offered to the deity, was also held. Similar to how elephants are chained up during festivals, Raman was also present in the same way for the ceremony.

In a statement, PETA India said, “The frustration of captivity leads elephants to develop and display abnormal behaviour. At their wit’s end, frustrated elephants often snap and try to break free, running amok and so harming humans, other animals, and property. According to figures compiled by the Heritage Animal Task Force, captive elephants killed 526 people in Kerala in a 15-year period. The chikkattukavu Ramachandran, who has been held captive for about 40 years and is one of the most often used elephants in Kerala’s festival circuit, has reportedly killed 13 individuals- six mahouts, four women, and three elephants”.

It requested that all places where elephants were used use mechanical or other lifelike elephants instead of real elephants.

In Kerela, elephants are an integral part of temple festivals. But the temple authorities of the Irinjadappilly Sri Krishna Temple hope to see other temples also replace live elephants for performing rituals.

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