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Nadayiruthal - Offering an Elephant to the God

Nadayiruthal is a votive ritual where elephants are offered to the gods and goddesses of temples. The tusker, fresh after a bath and escorted by a ceremonial pageant with the temple orchestra is brought before the idol and made to sit on a white cloth and woollen blanket called Vellayum Karimpadavum – the symbols of an honorable reception. The priest then performs certain rituals.

There is an identity token which tells the name of the committee under which the temple is and the name of the elephant. Once this token is tied around its neck, the elephant becomes the property of the temple and is dedicated to the service of the deity. It is thus sanctioned the right to carry the Thidampu (image) of the deity on all auspicious occasions. Nadayiruthal was performed in earlier days by the prosperous families in Kerala.

Being an agrarian land, there were very few rich families and hence this ritual was also a rare one. Though the agrarian life has given way to modernization and industrialization, it is still very expensive to support an elephant as a family property. Today, almost all major temples have their own elephants.