Want to know what goes into decorating an Indian elephant in the traditional style? Interested in learning about the special occasion where elephants are decorated? Read our guide for facts & information…
One of the first things that is highlighted in any tourism program or advertisements about India are the beautiful Indian elephants decorated in all their glory. These elephants usually belong to the temples of various deities specifically in the southern parts of India. The tradition of Indian elephants decorated in all their finery is certainly not new and there is ample proof of the long-standing relevance of this custom on the stone carvings in the ancient temples of India.
You will see various temple murals, and stone carvings indicating Indian elephants decorated ornately either in a procession revering the deity or in the procession of the local king.
Elephants hold a place of reverence in the Hindu religion where the elephant headed God; Lord Ganesha holds a very important position. You will see the idols of Ganesha in practically every Hindu household and every temple. Ganesha is revered when undertaking any auspicious task.
So it’s not surprising to see the importance of these Indian elephants decorated for the benefit of the devotees who come to the temple to seek the blessings of the deity. The elephant is considered to be an integral part of the religious fabric and the culture of worship, hence most devotees will also seek his blessings after coming out of the temple.
Many temples in South India have as many as 40 elephants that are strictly maintained by the temple trust. These elephants do not have to lead the life of hard labor hauling timber like their brethren elsewhere. They often live in the lap of luxury where their only task is to bless the devotees and oblige for a photograph or two. These elephants are trained by their mahouts from the time they are calves.
Almost all Indian temples are known for their annual processions when the idol of the deity is brought out of the temple and taken across the city or town in a memorable procession carried out with much aplomb. In fact, these Indian elephants decorated in the finest of traditional gear will often precede the processions.
No visit to India can be complete without a momentous picture of you taken with one of these Indian elephants decorated traditionally. However, if you do miss the chance you can always buy a miniature version carved out of stone, marble and even sandalwood from one of the many shops that dot the various cities.
The Indian elephants are smaller than their African counterparts and it’s fairly easy to tame them, they are often seen hauling timber with their human masters and obliging children with a joyride. There is also an Elephants Festival held annually in the city of Jaipur where Indian elephants decorated flawlessly perform an inimitable catwalk enthralling the audience.