MAHOUT

Brahma and the World in Balance

Andres Gutierrez

Kerala, India. Sept – Oct 2013

In the Hindu tradition, Brahma created the elephant to keep the equilibrium of the world. Throughout Indian history, the elephant has continued to play a practical role in society. Trained to understand and obey the orders of human beings, they have served as exotic transportation of tourists and as executioners of condemned prisoners.

In Kerala, one of the southern states of the country, more than 700 captive elephants are taught, fed and looked after by their mahouts, or riders. The animals are extremely important in Hindu rituals and celebrations, and it is perfectly normal to come across a massive procession in the middle of a busy street led by a pair or more of large tusks and ears.

These processions and festivals, in which both, animals and people are dressed up in traditional costumes, occur all year round and some of these elephants, like Sreehari, work full time for religious purposes.

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