Hyderabad: The Shia community in the city is apprehensive about the government’s plans to use the elephant Gajalakshmi Meena for carrying the standard during Muharram procession.
The pachyderm from Karnataka was used during Sri Ujjani Mahankali Bonalu festivities in Secunderabad on Monday. However the Shia community, who observed the behaviour of the elephant during the procession, felt it would be risky to deploy the elephant again during Muharram procession.
Syed Ali Jaffary of Shia Companions said the elephant was previously used during the Muharram in the city and that it had panicked then. “There is a likelihood of the elephant creating trouble during the ‘Ashura’ procession on the 10th day of the Muharram month. There will be a lot of blood when the mourners perform ‘matam’ (flagellation) and noise levels will be high too,” he said.
The group, along with a few other organisations who use elephants during religious processions, have formed the Telangana Elephant Welfare and Rehabilitation Society. The society plans to bring in an elephant from Delhi and keep it permanently in the State for Muharram, Bonalu and other processions.
“In Telangana, there is no trained elephant to participate in the processions of religious significance. We had talks with the owner of a pachyderm and they are willing to donate it to us,” said Jaffary.
The group has applied to the government for a No Objection Certificate. “If the certificate is issued, then we will go ahead with the plan to bring in the elephant and keep it permanently in the city. The society will take care of its upkeep,” Jaffary said.
As a tradition, the ‘Bibi Ka Alam’ (standard) is taken out on a caparisoned elephant. Several pachyderms including Hyderi and Hashmi were used and later Rajini carried the standard during the procession. However authorities are not willing to provide Rajani for processions as she is unfit.