Thousands of people gathered in Thrissur on Sunday to witness the grand opening of the famed Thrissur Pooram, considered as the mother of all temple festivals.
'Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran', the controversial elephant which was earlier denied permission to take part in the festivities by the authorities on health grounds, 'opened' the annual festival at the ancient Vadakkumnathan temple in Thrissur.
Marking the ritual heralding of Pooram, Ramachandran, the tallest elephant of the state, pushed open the southern entrance of the shrine amidst thunderous cheers of the people gathered on the temple ground.
The Thrissur Pooram falls on May 13 this year. The main event of the annual 'pooram' begins with the 10.5 foot tall elephant pushing open the gate of the temple,
with the idol of 'neithilakkavilamma' atop it.
Police and temple authorities had a tough time in shifting the jumbo from the ground after the rituals, based on the strict instructions by the district authorities.
Among the restrictions imposed on the use of the elephant were: It can take part in the ritual only for an hour from 9.30 am; four mahouts should escort the animal and barricades should be constructed on a 10-metre radius to prevent people from getting closer to the jumbo.
Ending four days of uncertainty, Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran was given the conditional nod on Saturday to participate in the Thrissur pooram after the animal cleared the fitness test.
The clearance to the government was given after a team of three veterinarians conducted the medical examination of the 54-year-old elephant.
The team had also submitted a report to the Thrissur collector T V Anupama, stating that the elephant was fit to participate in the 'vilambaram' ritual as part of 'pooram'.
Since 2014, the elephant has been been performing the ritual and has a big fan following in the state.
However, after two persons were killed by the pachyderm during a house-warming celebration in Guruvayur in February this year, the district administration had imposed a ban on its participation in festivals.
Thrissur, the state's cultural capital, is under a thick security cover with 3,500 policemen being deputed on duty.