TN likely to ban `blessings` by elephants

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 12:01

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government is likely
to ban the age old practice of elephants `blessing` pilgrims
in temples.

Wildlife officials have asked temple authorities to
put an end to the practice as trainers torture the elephants,
compelling them to `bless` pilgrims, sometimes leaving them
injured.

Moreover, elephants like humans suffer from diseases
like asthma and tuberculosis and it might spread to pilgrims,
the authorities said.

Chief wildlife warden R Sundarajaru had recently
issued a circular instructing the Hindu Religious and
Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department, which is
maintaining temples, to stop the practice.

The ban might also reduce stress on the jumbos. The
wildlife department had been conducting "relief camps" for
elephants for a month every year to relieve them from stress.

These camps are being conducted at the elephant
sanctuary at Mudumalai forest in Nilgiris district, where the
department had a training centre for jumbos.

The elephants were being fed with nutritious food
along with medicines to prevent the animals from contracting
diseases like tuberculosis. These camps, run for the past
seven years, had proved successful, the authorities said.

Wildlife department had also asked temple authorities
not to keep the elephants on concrete floors as it would
damage the foot of the animals.

HR and CE officials said they were discussing the ban.
"Any decision should not hurt the religious sentiments of the
pilgrims," they said.

Meanwhile, Hindu Bakta Sabha, a religious outfit, had
opposed the ban.

Murugavel, one of the office bearers of the Sabha said
getting blessing from elephants is considered sacred for
Hindus and any move to ban it would be against religious
sentiments.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 12:01

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