Kerala Temple First to Celebrate Ritual With Lifelike Mechanical Elephant, Gifted by PETA India and Supported by Parvathy Thiruvothu

Kerala Temple First to Celebrate Ritual With Lifelike Mechanical Elephant, Gifted by PETA India and Supported by Parvathy Thiruvothu

The news release is also available in Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi and Tamil.

London – Following Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple’s compassionate pledge never to keep or hire live elephants or any other animals, award-winning Indian film actor Parvathy Thiruvothu joined hands with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India by supporting the nadayiruthal (a ceremony in which an elephant is offered to the gods) of Irinjadappilly Raman, a magnificent, lifelike mechanical elephant. Irinjadappilly Raman will help conduct safe, cruelty-free ceremonies at the temple, supporting real elephants’ rehabilitation and sparing them the horror of captivity. An inaugural ceremony held today was followed by a performance by a percussion ensemble led by Peruvanam Satheesan Marar. Subjecting live elephants to the loud kettledrums is cruel, as it is harmful and distressing for them.

Photos and video of the mechanical elephant are available here.

“In this day and age, we have access to understanding what animals are forced to endure when humans use them for entertainment. It’s high time we made stronger and more impactful strides towards stopping such abuse and letting animals have respectful and dignified lives,” says Thiruvothu. “I’m delighted to support PETA India in helping Sree Krishna Temple worshippers experience the joy and sanctity of religious functions in an ahimsak, exciting, modern, and conscientious manner.”

Head priest of the temple Rajkumar Namboothiri says, “We are extremely happy and grateful to receive this mechanical elephant, which will help us to conduct our rituals and festivals in a cruelty-free way, and we hope that other temples will also think about replacing live elephants for rituals.”

Most elephants in captivity in India, including in Kerala, are being held illegally or have been transported to a different state without permission. Because elephants are wild animals who would not willingly obey human commands, when used for rides, ceremonies, tricks, and other purposes, they are trained and controlled through severe punishments, beatings, and the use of weapons with a metal-tipped hook. Many have extremely painful foot ailments and leg wounds from being chained to concrete for hours on end, and most do not get adequate food, water, or veterinary care, let alone any semblance of a natural life.

The frustration of captivity leads elephants to develop and display abnormal behaviour. At their wit’s end, frustrated elephants often snap and try to break free, running amok and harming humans, other animals, and property. According to figures compiled by the Heritage Animal Task Force, captive elephants killed 526 people in Kerala in a 15-year period. Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, who has been in captivity for about 40 years and is one of the most often used elephants in Kerala’s festival circuit, has reportedly killed 13 individuals – six mahouts, four women, and three elephants.

PETA India is encouraging all venues and events using elephants to switch to lifelike mechanical elephants or replace real animals by other means. The group advocates for elephants already in captivity to be retired to sanctuaries where they can live unchained and in the company of others of their species, healing psychologically and physically from the trauma of years of isolation, captivity, and abuse.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


Jennifer White +44 207-837-6327; [email protected]