raging elephant

A Kerla temple priest becomes trapped atop a raging elephant, as seen in this screen grab.

A Kerala temple priest riding atop an elephant for a religious festival suddenly became a trapped rider when the elephant became enraged and began smashing an auto rickshaw.

The recent incident occurred in the Indian city of Kozhikode and was captured on video by a rooftop observer across the street. Indian Express Online posted the video on YouTube. Watch as the priest performs a slick move to escape the raging elephant:

The priest managed to disembark by grabbing a telephone pole as the elephant continued down the street terrorizing residents. It was unknown how officials eventually got the wild animal under control.

Sadly, a 68-year-old woman pilgrim at the Vilkkinezhunnellippu ceremony at Sabarimala on Sunday afternoon wasn’t as lucky.

The woman—identified by The Hindu as Baby of Bhargavi Nilayam at Varkala in Thiruvananthapurm—suffered broken ribs when a temple elephant attacked her after becoming agitated at a wild boar running by.

Elephants such as this one are used in religious festivals in India.

Elephants such as this one are used in religious festivals in India. Photo: Thejas Panarkandy/Flickr

The elephant was drinking water at the time, and the woman was standing nearby. She was transported to nearby Sannidhanam Government Hospital and then to Government Medical College Hospital at Kottayam, where she later died of her injuries.

According to the Business Standard, the Heritage Animal Task Force wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that temples halt the use of elephants in religious processions.

Its letter also claimed that the elephant named Vallabhan belongs to the Malayinkeezhu Sree Krishna Swamy temple and has killed two of its trainers in the past four years.

“Yesterday’s incident reiterates the urgency of stoppage of the unnecessary practice of using elephants at Sabarimala for carrying the idol,” HATF secretary V.K. Venkatachalam wrote, according to the Business Standard.

“Priests carrying idols of deities during the procession is the age old practice in many temples in Kerala. But the decision of the temple authorities to use jumbos has now proved fatal for devotees in shrines like Sabarimala where killing of a devotee by an elephant is unheard of in the past.”

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