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Balarama leads jumbo contingent

The majestic Balarama, 46, will be leading the elephant contingent in the Dasara celebrations this October. He is already in town along with five other elephants, catching the admiring attention of the passers-by while on his routine walk every day morning and evening on the traditional Vijaya Dasami procession route in Mysore.

Balarama

Balarama being bathed at Mysore

The dozen elephants and their background are as follows:

Balarama: He is the chief attraction of the procession as he will carry the golden howdah with Mysore’s presiding deity Goddess Chamundeswari on October 23 for the sixth year in succession. He has participated in the Dasara 10 times so far. He was caught in 1987 from the forest of Kattepura

Bharata: The stand-by elephant for Balarama, Bharata, 37, is the youngest among the 12 elephants. He was also caught in 1987 from the Kattepura forest. He is participating in the Dasara celebrations since 1998.

Kanthi: The senior-most among the elephants, Kanthi is 64. She has taken part 11 times in the Dasara celebrations. Kanthi was trapped in 1968 in the Khedda operations in Kakanakote. She keeps company on one side of the howdah-carrying Balarama.

Gajendra: This tusker, bearing certain sacred marks, is the sacred elephant or the ‘Pattada Aane’. He has the honour of participating in the Dasara for eight times so far. Being the sacred elephant, 49-year-old Gajendra leads the contingent of elephants in the Vijaya Dasami procession, accompanied with two other elephants on either side of him carrying royal honours of the Mysore royal family. He was caught in 1987 from the Kattepura forest and camps in Nagarahole.

Mary: 48-year-old Mary has attended the festival five times. She missed the last Dasara. She was another capture from the Khedda operations of 1977 in Kakanakote.

Vijaya: A new entrant last year, Vijaya will be participating for the second year in succession in the celebrations. She was trapped in 1963 and since then is camping at Dubare forest camp.

Srirama: 47-year-old Srirama is attending Dasara for the seventh year.

Abhimanyu: He is 38 years of age and will be participating for the sixth time.

Harsha: Attending the Dasara for fifth time, Harsha is 38 years of age.

Arjuna: He had the honour of carrying the golden howdah once, but was found naughty and trouble-some. This had resulted in the trampling of an elephant caretaker. Hence, he lost the honour of being the ‘Ambari elephant’.

Revathi: Another female elephant to keep company with the tuskers, Revathi is 62 and will be participating in the Dasara festivities for the sixth time.

Sarojini: This female elephant is 59 years of age. For him also, it is the sixth attendance in the Dasara.

The last six elephants are expected to come to Mysore in October first week, while the first batch of six elephants are already camping near the Maharaja’s Palace.

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