Kerala bids farewell to its King of Beauty, legendary elephant Thiruvambadi Sivasunder

Kerala’s legendary temple elephant Thruvambadi Sivasunder died early on Sunday morning after prolonged illness. Sivasunder was one of the most beloved elephants in Kerala. He had a devoted fan following among the masses. He was nicknamed Azakinthe Thampuran or the King of Beauty by his admirers.

Sivasunder was employed at the famous Thiruvambadi temple and has been carrying the idol of the temple in the famous Thrissur festival for the past 15 years. He was one of the main attractions of the Thrissur Pooram (festival). Sivasunder was 46 years old. He was earlier known as Pukkodan Sivan. In 2003, a businessman named Sunder Menon had bought him from a timber merchant and gifted him to the care of the Thiruvambadi temple. He was given the name of Sivasunder after he was employed by the temple board.

According to reports, the honour for carrying the main idol at the festivals is reserved for the tallest and the most majestic elephant. Sivasunder looked and behaved the part. He has several fan clubs dedicated to him in Kerala and he was the principal attraction in temple festivals.

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Sivasunder also used to carry the idol of the temple at other prominent festivals of the state such as the Arattupuzha Pooram, Nenmara-Vallangi Vela, Uthralikavu Pooram and Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam festival.

Thousands of people including political leaders and ministers gathered to pay homage to the mighty pachyderm on Sunday. People had his last darshan and paid him respect. People were seen bowing down to him, touching his tusks and many even broke down in tears in their grief.

The elephant had been under treatment for impaction since the last 66 days. He was tethered in a closed tent in the premises of the Thiruvambadi Devaswom at the Kaustubham auditorium after his illness. Animal lovers and devotees made a beeline to see him. However, Sivasunder grew weak despite best attempts and collapsed on Saturday. Efforts to make him stand were unsuccessful, even after using cranes to provide him support.

Admirers from all across the state visited to pay homage to the elephant. He was reportedly the second elephant after the legendary Guruvayur Kesavan to attract such a grand farewell.

Sivasunder’s popularity can be guessed from the fact that he was the winner of several titles in festivals in his long career. He won the Gaja Kesari title in Gajaraja Samagama in 2007. He also held the title of Mathanga Kesari in 2008.

Professor M Madhavan Kutty, the secretary of the Thiruvambadi Devaswom has stated that Sivasunder cannot be replaced. He was popular for his beauty and obedience and it is a huge loss for the Devaswom. He also dismissed the claims of certain activists that Sivasunder was overworked. He added that Sivasunder was a gem for the temple and no efforts were spared in his treatment and care.

Fellow elephants too paid their respects to the legendary elephant.

Sivasunder’s body was taken to Kodanad for the last rites.

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