Devotees catch elephant's tail in a unique ritual

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Kollam (Kerala), Apr 8 : Cheered on by hundreds of onlookers, a few brave-hearts chased an elephant, trying to catch its tail during a unique ritual in Kollam.

Devotees gathered at the Umayanallur Sree Subramanya Swamy Temple to celebrate 'Aanavaal Pidi', which entails catching the tusker's tail, symbolic of the childhood antics of elephant headed God 'Ganesha', as part of the ten-day annual festival, which falls during the months of March-April.

The elephant is first brought to the temple where it is anointed and decorated and then taken to the venue in a procession amidst pomp and show.

The animal is then chased on by men, who have been fasting for seven days, as they run after the tusker trying to catch its tail, in a belief that it will fulfill their wishes.

The ritual, which gets over within a minute, attracted the residents and tourists alike who were quite fascinated to watch this unique spectacle.

"It's quite amazing. It was my first time I saw this, but it was very good. It would be exciting if there was not only one elephant but two or more," said Carolina, a tourist from Germany.

The animal races up to a distance of 100 meters during the ritual with devotees trying to hold onto its tail.

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