The Elephant as a Part of Ritual Worship in Hindu Religion

M G Singh By M G Singh, 6th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Festivals

The elephant has a close association with Hindu religious thought. It forms part of festival rituals in Hinduism

The Elephant as a part of Religion

The elephant is a mammal that has its natural habitat in South East Asia, more particularly in India. This animal which is the largest mammal has been put to various uses in the sub continent. Thus it was used as weapon of war by the Armies of this region, but it has a special place in Hindu religious thought and practice as well. Out of the pantheon of Hindu Gods there is one God that takes the garb of an elephant and has a trunk. He is ‘lord Ganesh’ one of the most lovable Gods in the Hindu religion. Also known as the ‘elephant god’, lord Ganesh is supposed to be the son of the Lord Shiva one of the foremost Gods in Hindu thought and worship.
The Elephant and Hindu Religion

The elephant is thus one of the ingredients of temple worship, more so in the Deep South where the maximum numbers of elephant herds thrive. As per latest estimates , there could be over 80,000 elephants roaming in wild herds in India.

Elephants at Ganesh Festival

The Hindu religion gives great importance to the elephants and also forms a part of temple worship and rituals. A lot many temples in South India make use of trained elephants for worship of the deities in the temples. The training of these elephants is of great importance and they are inducted into the temple rituals from a young age. As the elephant is a very intelligent animal, it picks up the nuances of temple worship very fast.
Elephants and Temple Worship
Some of the bigger temples have their own elephant farms and rear their own elephants.
The elephant farm at the Guruvayoor temple located at Madumalai close to Coimbatore in the State of Tamil Nadu has the largest farm of them all. Nearly 50 domesticated elephants are bred and kept in this farm. These elephants are looked after by specially trained Mahouts who teach the elephants the necessary rituals of temple worship.
The Ganesh festival during the month of Augest is a special occasion where great use is made of these elephants in temple rituals. The festival last 10 days and the elephants lead the prayers in the temple premises. A team of about 20 elephants are washed and got ready for the ritual complete with garlands and flowers. The decked elephants are then led to the temple in a procession. The elephants move in pairs and kneel before the Deity of lord Ganesh to the accompaniment of drum beats and blowing of conch shells. The elephants are also taught to shower flowers on the deity

The Elephant in Shiva Worship

One of the famous places is Dharmasthala a temple village on the banks of the Nethravathi River in the Belthangadi taluk of the Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. The temple here is devoted to Shiva and the principal object of worship is the linga. The temple is unusual in that it is run by a Jain administration and pooja’s are conducted by Hindu priests of Madhva order. The elephants form part of the worship ritual.

After the celebration is over the elephants partake of the Prasad that is distributed to all. Seeing the elephants kneeling before the deity is a sight by itself and foreign tourists are in awe at this spectacle. It is certainly a sight that must be seen


Elephant, Festivals And Elephants, Hindu Religion, Rituals, Worship

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author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
6th Apr 2012 (#)

Nicely told, Madan. Lord Ganesha is revered as a remover of obstacles. The Thrissur Puram festival is marked by formation of tens of gold caparisoned elephants and is a huge draw of pilgrims every year - siva

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you Siva

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author avatar Souvik
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Dear Madanji,
Your article is excellent.
It is educative as well.
Souvik Chatterji.

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks Souvik

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author avatar Retired
7th Apr 2012 (#)

A very good educational piece, thank you.

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author avatar M G Singh
8th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you Jenny

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author avatar Buzz
10th Apr 2012 (#)

I salute you, my friend, for churning out every topic under the sun. Thank you for sharing.

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author avatar Jules Castillo
11th Apr 2012 (#)

well, i have to believe this

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