Mysuru: The famous Gajapayana (elephants’ march), which heralds the Dasara celebrations, commenced its journey from Veeranahosahalli near the Nagarahole forest check-post in Hunsur.
Due to Covid-19 threat, the festivities will be observed in a simple and traditional manner. Hence, only five elephants against the usual 14 elephants will participate this year. Elephants Abhimanyu, Vijaya, Cauvery, Vikrama and Gopi started the journey from forests to Mysuru for the event which has been restricted to traditional poojas by the forest officials only.
There will be no formal stage event. The elephants will be brought in trucks to Aranya Bhavan in Mysuru on Thursday. All the five caparisoned pachyderms, led by Abhimanyu, will be accorded a grand welcome at the Jayamarthanda Gate (East) of Mysuru Palace with traditional poojas on Friday. Pooja ceremonies will be performed between 1000 and 1100 hrs. After the welcome event, pachyderms and their caretakers will stay at Mysuru Palace courtyards till the end of Dasara celebrations.
The Mysuru Palace board will erect 12 tents for mahouts, kavadis and cooks to prepare food for elephants and forest department staff.
The elephants will be trained for ‘Jumbo Savari’ procession which will be held within the palace premises on October 26. Abhimanyu will carry the 750 golden howdahs with the idol of Goddess Chamundeswari. Mahouts and kavadis will have to go through Covid tests.
Till last year Arjuna elephant carried the golden howdah, however, as per the sc order the elephant aged attained the age of 60 years should not be used for activities.
In a departure from tradition due to the pandemic impact, mahouts have been asked not to bring their family members and children.
Meanwhile, as many as six floral models of elephants designed with more than 20,000 flowers are getting set at the Mysuru Palace premises to welcome special guests and the five pachyderms.