Society Magazine

Elephant Impersonation !

Posted on the 05 December 2022 by Sampathkumar Sampath

Elephants have been the central theme of many films : Yanai Pagan, Yanai valartha Vanampadi, Nalla Neram, Ram Lakshman, Annai Oru Alayam, Kumki; more beautifully portrayed in some Malayalam movies like -  Aanachandam, Gajaraja Manthram  and the ultimate  Guruvayur Kesavan … the love of the film industry dates back to 1937 movie ‘Elephant boy’ made   at the London Films studios at Denham, and in Mysore.

Elephant impersonation !

Remember the blockbuster ‘3 Idiots / Nanban / Snehithudu’, a  film that  distinctively  featured inventions ingenuously made.   When the two friends try finding out the other colleague who was so innovative in their college, comes the turn that a rich Estate owner had in fact utilized their servant to study in guise and his son taking the credits.  Impersonations are oft repeated in tinseldom.  Aiyampettai Arivudainambi Kaliyaperumal Chandran does exhibit his comic skills in that interview before Sriramachandramurthy in his import-export company, and then fools him by impersonating that he has a twin brother.  That was hilarious ‘Thillu Mullu’ – the Rajnikant starrer, directed by K Balachander.  Another Rajnikant blockbuster ‘Billa’ – storyline featuring a mafia don, who gets fatally wounded in an encounter too had impersonation.  The police plant a decoy, a villager impersonating the don and providing vital clues ~ [though the film ran for many days, I always feel, that naming of the movie  after a cruel criminal was in bad taste].   Well this is no cinema review – but an interesting story of impersonation of an elephant.

Ivory, the hard, white material derived from the tusks and teeth of animals, especially the mammoth elephant is very costly. It is used in art and manufacture.  Prior to the introduction of plastics, it was used for billiard balls, piano keys, Scottish bagpipes, buttons and a wide range of ornamental items.  Whether it is costly or useful ~ it looks good on an elephant and is its body part, not an ornamental piece meant for your display…………..

The use and trade of elephant ivory is criminal and controversial, and this has contributed to seriously declining elephant populations in many countries.  The Asian elephant preceded its African cousin in becoming part of the endangered species.   In our own state, there was the poacher Veerappan dealing on sandalwood and ivory.   Chinese styled jewellery  and Japanese ornamental markets had done incalculable harm to the tuskers.  Remember in Africa both male and cow elephants have tuskers unlike their Asian cousins.   

The  international ivory trade was banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in 1989. One hundred and eighty-four countries are now bound by this agreement. However, some illegal markets still thrive.  In Japan, commercial trade of ivory (elephant tusks and its products) is prohibited in principle and is permitted only under specific conditions.   Given the long-term reduction in Japanese ivory demand,  there are suggestions that  Japan’s ivory market no longer represents a threat to elephant populations. Yet it remains important to prevent illegal exports to countries where ivory is still highly valued.  

Women dressing up as men to cheat people or for their livelihood have made headlines several times.  Lakkidi Indira, pictured at the start  is majestic, commands large fan following, has FB page of her own – yet a couple of years ago, was disguised and paraded !!    under the name, Kollamkodu Keshavan in Ezhunnallathu at Thootha Pooram.  Situated on the banks of the Thootha River, Sree Thootha Bhagavathy temple is one of the main Bhadra Kali temples in Malabar.

It does sound strange !  .. .. yet happened.  This was against the tradition, and not received well. The temple central committee and the trustee board asked the group for explanation from the group  that paraded Lakkidi Indira as male for the elephant procession and banned her participation in the important functions of the festival for an year, as punishment.

It was stated that they could not find the required number of male elephants which was to be 15 but they were short by one – most of the male elephants had been away in other temple festivals, including famous Thrissur pooram – so the contractor tried to fool the people by adding tuskers to the female elephant and paraded her in disguise. 

Strange are the ways of people ! – this perhaps was not only against tradition but also cruelty to the elephant.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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