Today is the 2013 Jaipur Elephant Festival, a day when these majestic animals are lavishly decorated and paraded in celebration of the Hindu Holi festival of colors.
Elephants have always held an important place in the Indian society. Lord Ganesha, the Hindu deity with the head of an elephant, is greatly revered and is the lord master of all ceremonies and happy beginnings. Elephants are part of many major religious ceremonies, processions and even marriage ceremonies; all primarily ceremonial roles as the era of the war elephant is now long over.
The Elephant Festival is an annual event held every year at Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. The Elephant Festival Jaipur is organised according to the Indian calendar on the full moon day of Phalgun Purnima (February/March), this day also coincides with day of Holika Dahan, just a day before Dulendhi, when the Indian festival of colour and joy Holi is celebrated all over India turning cities and towns into a riot of colour, fun and frolic.
As the name suggests elephants are the centre of attraction at the Elephant Festival Jaipur. Pachyderms are washed, painted and groomed in all finery by their loving grooms or Mahouts as they are called in India. Elephants are specially decorated for the elephant festival, with chunky elephant jewellery, large anklets decked with bells grace their feet, their bodies are painted with traditional Indian motifs, gold embroidered velvet rugs grace their backs along with silver and gold plated Howdahs and gold embroidered velvet parasol’s . The large ears of the elephants are adorned with ear danglers and brightly coloured brocade scarfs. Even their tusks are ringed with gold and silver bracelets and rings. Richly embellished head-plates adorn the Elephants foreheads. The mahouts are also all dressed up in their brocade jackets and bright coloured Safa’s or turbans. At the Jaipur Elephant festival there is a prize for the best decorated Elephant and its Mahout.
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