Cruelty-free ceremony: Indian temple replaces live elephant with ‘lifelike mechanical’ alternative

Author: Liam Gilliver

Read Time:   |  22nd March 2023

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A temple in Kerala has opted for a ’cruelty-free’ ceremony - replacing a live elephant with a ’lifelike’ alternative…


A temple in India has become the first of its kind to celebrate a ritual without using a real-life elephant.

Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple in Kerala recently pledged never to keep or hire live animals. Despite animal welfare concerns, this is a common practice in many places of worship.

As a result, award-winning actor Parvathy Thiruvothu and vegan charity PETA provided the temple with a lifelike mechanical elephant.

The cruelty-free alternative will be used for nadayiruthal: a ceremony in which an elephant is offered to the Gods.

Temple ditches real-life elephant

“We have access to understanding what animals are forced to endure when humans use them for entertainment,” said Thiruvothu.

“It’s high time we made stronger and more impactful strides towards stopping such abuse and letting animals have respectful and dignified lives.

“I’m delighted to support PETA India in helping worshippers experience the joy and sanctity of religious functions in an ahimsak, exciting, modern, and conscientious manner.”

Head priest of the temple Rajkumar Namboothiri added: “We’re extremely happy and grateful to receive this mechanical elephant.

“[It] will help us to conduct our rituals and festivals in a cruelty-free way.

“We hope that other temples will also think about replacing live elephants for rituals.”


Elephants in captivity

According to PETA, many captive elephants in India are being held illegally.

The organisation says these animals are often trained to obey human commands during ceremonies and circuses through ‘severe punishments and beatings’.

“Many have extremely painful foot ailments and leg wounds from being chained to concrete for hours on end,” PETA India states.

“Most do not get adequate food, water, or veterinary care… Let alone any semblance of a natural life.”

The charity is now encouraging all venues to switch to mechanical versions of elephants – and allow captive animals to be retired into sanctuaries.

Are zoos vegan? We explore both sides of the debate

Featured image © PETA

Written by

Liam Gilliver

Liam is a journalist working for the Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Star and OK! Magazine. He's also the author of We're Worried About Him and has been published in the likes of The Independent, Huffington Post, and Attitude Magazine.

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