It's that time of the year when the whole of Kerala goes mad with festivals - Hindu's, Christians and Muslim's vie with each other to celebrate religious/quasi-religious occasions with fanfare. The elephant has traditionally been part of temple celebrations; not to be left behind, the Christians and Muslims too have joined in parading these beasts in public. Giving elephants out for rent has become a business. The beasts are treated with scant respect by ill-trained `mahouts' - they are made to stand for long hours in horribly hot weather and frequently `punished'. There is no way elephants can form a union, but they are not taking these insults lying down. Not one day has gone by in the past two months without an incident of elephants getting `unruly' and spreading panic. But yesterday's events were really horrifying. An elephant which was ill-treated by its mahout gored him to death, tried to kill a few others, attacked another elephant, created a sort of stampede which resulted in 17 people getting injured and in general, provided copious `real-life' thrills to an audience of Malayalis growing stupid day by day watching endless TV serials.
The elephant has become a real threat to life and property in Kerala. But you will never find a report in the popular press questioning the logic behind letting dangerous beasts mingle freely with large crowds. These beasts have become a valuable source of sensational news - the press loves them.
The residents of Trichur are going to witness another act of lunacy - the Pooram fireworks. The concerned temple authorities say that without this great act of `tradition', the Pooram is meaningless. They are willing to detonate high-explosives in the middle of the town, right in the midst of a huge crowd, unmindful of the dangers which are so obvious just so that `tradition' is upheld. The highly `literate' population of Trichur is backing them wholeheartedly. Some attempts are underway to `restrict' the fireworks - but I am sure the local neta's, business men, temple authorities and the `spirited' public will gang together to make sure that the maidan at the centre of the town erupts into fire on the appointed day ....
Update: The Malayala Manorama reports that absolutely NO restrictions will be placed on the fireworks display.