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PICS: Elephant Fest in Karnataka

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The first batch of five elephants Balarama, Abhimanya, Arjuna, Mary, Varalakshmi lead the traditional 'Gaja Payana' or the march of elephants from Veeranahosahalli to Mysore Palace, in Mysore on Aug 14, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

Gaja Payana’ or the march of elephants is a popular event in Karnataka. The first batch of five elephants Balarama, Abhimanya, Arjuna, Mary, Varalakshmi lead the traditional ‘Gaja Payana’ or the march of elephants from Veeranahosahalli to Mysore Palace, in Mysore. The elephants will participate in the world famous annual Mysore Dasara celebrations. In fact, Gaja Payana marks the countdown to the Dasara festivities.  The Maharajas of Mysore started this tradition of Gaja Payana. Back then, the elephants chosen to take part in the Dasara celebrations would walk the entire route from their forest base camps to Mysore city. It is said that the King himself would falg off the Gaja Payana, after performing puja to the elephants. The nearby villagers would add more colour to the ceremony with their tribal or folk dance, music and songs. All along the route, villagers would warmly greet the elephants and offer them eatables. Once the elephants reached the main Palace gate, they would receive a grand Royal welcome and their regular training routine for the final day’s Dasara Procession would start.