Anayottam or Elephant Race

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AanayottamOnce Guruvayur was a Keezhedam of Thrikanamathilakam (Trikkunavay). The festival of Trikkunavay used to finish two days before the beginning of Guruvayur Utsavam. The elephants used to come from Trikkunavay for the Guruvayur utsavam. Once they refused to send their elephants to Guruvayur for not making payment in time. The elephants were chained but they broke the chain and ran to Guruvayur without the mahouts on that night. From that day onwards the elephants used to leave Trikkunavay on Punarvasu to reach Guruvayur in time for the festival. Trikkunavay was destroyed by the Dutch in 1755. To keep the reminiscence of this unusual event, the elephant race (aanayottam) is conducted every year and this marks the beginning of the Guruvayur Utsavam. The elephants run from Manjulal, (the banyan tree half a kilometer away from the eastern entrance to the temple) enter the temple, take 7 rounds and touch the flagstaff in the end. The first elephant to touch the flagstaff will be given special treatment inside the temple on the days of Utsavam and will get the privilege of carrying the Lord's thidambu for the procession

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