Indian temple gets mechanical elephant for rituals

By Reuters
June 23, 2024
Life-size mechanical elephant donated by ETA India to Kerala temple. — PETA India

NEW DELHI: A temple in southern India has introduced a three-metre-tall, mechanical, life-like elephants for rituals in an effort to reduce animal cruelty.


PETA India donated the 800-kg robot elephant to Pournamikavu Temple. Authorities at the temple have vowed to never hire or keep elephants. The elephant called ‘Baladhasan’ can move its ear and tail and children and devotees were seen getting pictures clicked with the latest attraction. In Kerala, a land blessed with rich heritage and tradition of celebrating temple festivals in all its grandeur and exotic way, the tuskers take the centre stage in these festivals not only in carrying the presiding deity on its caparisoned head, but also in fascinating the devotees and tourists.

Kerala’s laws make it mandatory for elephants to have at least 12 hours of rest after parading for five hours, and five hours of rest after traveling. But poor adherence to these rules has maltreatment of elephants and even incidents where they ran amok, causing damage to property and injuries to people. Elephant owners make use of the festival season by transporting elephants from one site to another, usually without a break. Often the elephants are made to walk on tarred roads for hours, getting neither rest nor respite.