Elephants, horses, oxen getting ready for Tirumala Brahmotsavam

Elephants, horses and bulls play an important role in the celebrations of TTDs annual festival of Brahmostsavam

Elephants, horses, oxen getting ready for Tirumala Brahmotsavam

TIRUPATI: Elephants, horses and bulls play an important role in the celebrations of Tirumala Tirupati Devastanam's (TTD) annual festival of Brahmostsavam. These animals are used in the lord's 'Vahanaseva' festivity. They are beautifully decorated and are placed in front of the procession as a symbol of welcoming the enthusiastic devotees inside the temple. They also mark the announcement of the arrival of the deity, as they vigilantly walk in front of the procession. These aesthetically embellished animals are credited by the devotees for the joy in the celebrations. These animals are taken care of in Sri Venkateswara Gosanrakshanala in Tirupati.

Elephants have special importance in such festivities. According to Hindu mythology, the elephant is the vehicle of goddess Lakshmi and therefore they are considered a symbol of wealth. It is said that the glory of Venkateshwara, who is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is further enhanced when elephants (the symbol of wealth) along with other animals like horses and bulls participate in the celebrations.

Fourteen-year-old, Srinidhi is the youngest of elephants in Tirumala and the oldest Lakshmi is of forty-five years age.

Dr. Haranatha Reddy, director of the SV Gosanrakshanashala, said that it was difficult to control the male elephants as they would tend to produce certain hormones, and hence were not used for these festivities. He also said that the elephants were given exercises to perform and body massages every day during temple utsav services. The elephants were made to walk in cowsheds as part of their exercise and were fed every half hour.

The director also said that special precautions were being taken to protect the elephants from the lights of powerful electric lamps and the sound of artists' instruments during the Vahanaseva in the temple streets.

"The elephants will be meticulously trained and tamed before the Brahmotsavam, sugar cane and grass will be provided to them every 20 minutes during Brahmotsavam," said Dr Reddy.

The temple representatives are constantly vigilant with ropes and chains that are tied to the animals to control in the processions. Health tests are conducted before the animals are used for the celebrations. Only healthy animals are selected for these processions. The animals are constantly accompanied by zoologists and veterinary specialist. Precautions are also taken by the temple to control the animals in case of unforeseen accidents. A special path has also been created for the elephants to move around during this time in Tirumala. Veterinarians, from Kerala, are roped in to monitor the elephants.

Animals participating in the procession are specially decorated. Elephants are decorated with colorful quilts. The animals on the day of 'Garudaseva' are specially ornamented. Horses, which are believed to be the symbol of valor, are decorated with bracelets, tuft on the head, quilts, neckbands and anklets. Bulls or also known as Vrishabhas, who are considered the friends of the peasants and a symbol of virtue, is decorated with black garlands around their necks, flower garlands and anklets. Raavi leaves, banyan leaves and sugarcane are given as food to these animals at regular intervals during the procession.

SV Goshala, in Tirumala, has a total of 45 cows including milch cows, young calves and melurak bulls. Another eight acres of land adjacent to the cattle shed is reportedly being flattened and is being developed for the cows to graze. A shed is also being constructed to nurse around 100 cows. The required milk, curd and butter for the temple are delivered from SV Goshala. Buttermilk is also churned from the cows for the devotees visiting the temple.

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