Pathanamthitta: It was a chaotic scene at Kerala's famous Sabarimala temple on Friday morning after an elephant carrying a priest ran amok. The elephant suddenly became uncontrollable amidst the chants of a sea of devotees and left 12 of them injured, including the 36-year-old priest who was sitting atop.
The elephant was also carrying an idol of Lord Ayyappa as a part of the ritual and was heading towards Padma river to take part in the 'Arattu' ceremony.
All efforts of mahouts to control it went in vain as the elephant, despite its chains, tried escaping into the woods.
"The elephant was soon caught back and controlled by the mahouts. The injured were admitted to the hospital. The priest who fell down, has severe rib injuries," the police said.
"He has been admitted to the Kottayam Medical College. After the elephant was controlled, the ritual was completed as was required," they added.
'Arattu' is the concluding ceremony of the five-day 'vilakkinezhunnellippu' ritual in which a procession carrying the 'Sreebali' idol in a 'thidambu' on a caparisoned elephant is be taken out. Sabarimala Temple is visited every year by lakhs of devotees almost every season.
However, incidents of people being attacked by elephants have been frequenting news off late. On March 4 this year, an elephant had attacked and killed a senior forest service officer in a thickly forested area in Karnataka's Nagarahole Tiger Reserve.
S Manikandan had gone to the area to assess damage caused by a mild fire in the region. After getting down from the jeep, MR Manikandan, accompanied by other officials, had walked for a while when the elephant attacked them from behind.
While others managed to escape, Mr Manikandan was attacked by the elephant and trampled to death. Ironically, the incident had taken place on World Wildlife Day.
In the backdrop of these incidents, the Supreme Court is slated to give a hearing on the issue of elephant corridors in the country on April 6. The idea has been proposed in an effort to curb human-animal conflict.