It’s morning again, and as I’m giving Peanut her breakfast, I glance out the front door to see what appears to be a disembodied elephant head passing through the trees in the distance. I call for my husband to get his camera.
As we stand on the veranda, wondering what is happening, we can hear the very loud thumping of chanda (drums) and wailing of kombu (trumpets) somewhere nearby. We grab the kids and rush outside.
Racing up small nearby streets and past the neighbors’ houses, we happen upon the reason for the raucous: Several men playing chanda and kombu, a man swinging incense, and an elephant, decorated with a gilded headdress, docile as a lamb, have stopped at one of the neighboring homes.
As we watch eagerly, the family members of this home emerge carrying fruit, and lighting kuthu villaku (ceremonial golden lamp). The drummers thump some more and move on. My husband tells me that this is a ritual that Hindus do before the start of Thrissur Pooram, giving money and offerings, and that the entourage would only stop at the homes of Hindus. If we want to take photos, we have no choice but to follow the group!
They stop at another home, then another, the ritual the same each time, and I can’t take my eyes off of the elephant. He is so gentle and obedient.
A paapan (elephant caretaker) is riding atop the creature, and even has to do “the limbo” to avoid riding straight into some low-hanging power lines!
The kids are pretty excited to see an elephant this close-up for the first time, so we decide to take them to the Guruvayoor Aanakotta later today…