Decorated Elephants

 

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 Decorated elephants are an integral part of the annual Sri Lankan festival in the hill town of Kandy in the central part of the country. Elephants are trained and decorated for the special days of the year to participate in the Buddhist festival, which celebrates the annual bringing out of the the special casket from the Temple. Inside this casket is held a Buddha relic, one of his tooth. This casket is never opened, but is symbol of the presence of Buddha. It is brought out once a year so all can view it, as through out the year it is safeguarded inside the temple. Only a special elephant is trained to carry it on its back to parade it through the streets of the town of Kandy. Elephants are called gentle beasts and their majestic presence is heightened by the colorful and glittering clothing. Along with the special elephant there are many other decorated elephants who add to the pomp and pagentry of the festival along with dancers, musicians, acrobats, and other performers. If ever in Sri Lanka visit Kandy in the month of August to view this wonderful festivity.

Elephants are an important cultural icon in Asia. According to Hindu mythology the Devas (gods) and Asuras (demigods) churned the oceans in search of Amrita (nectar of immortality). As they did, nine treasures surfaced, which were divided amongst the gods. An elephant was one of them and it was given to Indra, the king of the gods. It would become Indra's vehicle and was called Airavata. In Buddhism, too the elephant holds an important place, especially for its calm and peaceful quality.

Asian elephants are sociable and live in matriarchal groups. They are found in the Indian Subcontinent and Indonesia. They are vegetarian, feed on grass, tree barks, roots, leaves, stems. Bananas, rice, and sugarcane are also some of their favorite food. They live close to water sources as they need to drink at least once a day. They are known for long memories, which helps them return to places visited. They are also known to show grief for a dead companion. They are trusted for their calmness and can be trained to help the humans. Many temples in India and Sri Lanka train them to participate in processions, where they are decorated and trusted to carry important treasures of the temple. They are very well cared for by their Mahuts. 

We offer a variety of representation of the cultural icon. You can find mahogany, albiza, granite, and cloth elephants.