Ban on elephant 'blessings' in Tamil Nadu soon
Chennai, Aug 4: In a development that will bring cheers to animal lovers but may hurt beliefs of Hindu devotees, Tamil Nadu government is mulling a ban on practice of elephants 'blessing' pilgrims in temples.
The move towards a ban was inspired by the fact that the elephants are tortured by the trainers compelling them to 'bless' pilgrims. The jumbos often get injured in the process.
A circular was recently issued by Chief wildlife warden R Sundarajaru instructing the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department, the body that maintains temples, to put an end to the practice.
These kinds of practices and the required training cause excessive stress to the elephants. The wildlife department, in fact, had been conducting month-long 'stress relief camps' for the jumbos annually at Mudumalai forest in Nilgiris district.
The Wildlife department has also directed the temples against keeping the elephants on concrete floors as it would hurt the foot of the animals.
Giving another reason as to why the 'blessing' practice has to be banned, the department said elephants suffer from diseases like asthma and tuberculosis and it might spread to pilgrims.
However, as is the case in implementing any such step, there are religious and sentimental hurdles.
"Any decision should not hurt the religious sentiments of the pilgrims," HR and CE officials complain.
Hindu Bakta Sabha, a religious outfit, has already raised its voice against the ban.