Many are possibly not aware of the elephantine task of fastening the golden howdah to the back of the howdah-bearer pachyderm Arjuna, during Dasara.

The process of mounting the golden howdah on the back of Arjuna began at 1.45 pm yesterday. The initial preparations were done near the Someshwara temple.

A thick cloth called 'Namda' was first spread on the back of Arjuna. A thick mattress of huge square shape stuffed with grass called 'Gadhi' was then laid on the 'Namda' and the combination was fastened to the back of the elephant using a thick jute rope about 80 to 90 ft long. Finally, another cloth called 'chapu' was spread on the fastened mattress.

The three layers were kept in place using huge stretchable rubber ropes. To prevent discomfort and pain to the exposed portions of the elephants' belly owing to the tight ropes, castor oil was smeared to the skin.

All through the process, Kumki elephants Sarala and Varalakshmi were made to stand beside Arjuna to keep him calm and sober. Later, Arjuna flanked by the two Kumki elephants was bought in front of the Khas Durbar of the Palace.

The Chamundeshwari idol brought from Chamundi Hill was formally installed in the decorated golden howdah after performing puja at 1.50 pm, by the Palace priest Prahalad Rao.

The howdah was lifted by a crane and placed on Arjuna's back at 2.30 pm and fastened with red jute rope, the operation lasting about 45 minutes. Mahout Masthi was monitoring the process to ensure perfection.

After a formal puja, Arjuna joined the procession carrying the golden howdah by 3.50 pm in front of the Palace.

The process of mounting the howdah on the elephant was keenly watched by Pramodadevi Wadiyar, from the window of the Khas Palace.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore