Elephant worship for human-wildlife co-existence


By Mukunda Subedi, Bardiya, Dec 5: There is a tradition of worshipping elephants by the Tharu Guruwa in Bardiya district.

There is a public belief that the worship of elephants will bring longevity to elephants and reduce fatal incidents to humans by elephants.  

Dr Ashok Ram, Chief Conservation officer of the Bardiya National Park (BNP) said that BNP is the home to the largest elephant, Gajaraj, in South Asia and the name of the Gajaraj elephant, Gajaraj pillars have been erected. Every year elephants are worshipped in an area located on pillars. 

Tharu Guruwa chants mantras and prays in the pillars. Around 15/20 Guruwa pierced tongues together while quivering and walking barefoot in the fire. 

Thakur Prasad Tharu, Chief of the Tharu Guruwa said that elephants are given delicious food by decorating elephants following the pray. Earlier there was a custom to worship elephants by making pigs trampled under the elephant’s foot but it is now replayed with the worship of elephants. 

Wild elephants destroy crops, and properties and even cause human casualties to locals living in the middle of the National Park. 

It is believed that the hostility between humans and animals will be reduced thereby maintaining co-existence following the worship. 

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