Hyderabad: The Bonalu festivities this year will have a rather big touch of cine glamour. Gajalakshmi Menaka, the 34-year-old elephant which featured in ‘Baahubali’ will be part of the colourful celebrations in Secunderabad and Old City from July 26 to August 2.
Menaka, who was part of the festivities in 2019, will be taking part in the religious processions to be taken out from the historic Sri Ujjaini Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad on July 26, Sri Nalla Pochamma Temple in Sabzimandi on August 1 and Sri Akkanna Madanna Temple in Shahalibanda on August 2.
Last year, the processions were not organised because of Covid-19 restrictions. Sri Ujjaini Mahankali Temple Executive Officer G Manohar Reddy said a special team would bring Menaka in a truck on July 25 for taking part in the procession the next day. During procession after the ‘Rangam’ ritual, a portrait of the Goddess would be kept atop the elephant after a puja.
A 10-member team, including a veterinary doctor from the Nehru Zoological Park, will also accompany the elephant to attend to any emergency. If necessary, tranquilisers will be kept ready. The Endowments Department roped in Menaka from Sri Veeratapaswi Veerabhadra Shivacharyaru of Savira Devar Mutt at Raichur in Karnataka after officials from the Nehru Zoological Park said the elephant Rajani, who earlier used to be part of Bonalu festival, could not participate due to ill-health.
On the other hand, Menaka also has experience in participating in religious processions in Raichur. Though Menaka was part of various movies, it was ‘Baahubali 2’ in 2017 that catapulted her to pachyderm fame. A few months ago, the Chief Veterinary Officer at Kadaganchi Veterinary Hospital in Karnataka issued a health certificate for Menaka stating that she was healthy. She could be used for religious and Mutt purposes, the Chief Veterinary Officer said.
When contacted, Sri Akkanna Madanna Temple patron G Niranjan said the Endowments Department had come forward to help in getting Menaka for the procession to be organised from the temple to Musi River.
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