Noted Kerala tusker Mangalamkunnu Karnan's death leaves many teary-eyed

Thousands of people paid their last respects to Karnan when the tusker’s body was kept at Mangalamkunnu before the funeral.

Ottappalam: Mangalamkunnu Karnan, one among the tallest domestic elephants in Kerala, breathed its last here on Thursday. The tusker, aged 63, was suffering from various illnesses during the last few months, forcing it to take rest.

Thousands of people paid their last respects to Karnan when the tusker’s body was kept at Mangalamkunnu before the funeral, which took place in Walayar forest in the evening.

Bihar native

Karnan hailed from Bihar and was brought to Kerala in 1989 by the Thrissur-based Ezhuthachan Group. Later, the tusker was bought by Vadakkkoott Haridas of Manissery and came to be known as Manissery Karnan. In 2003, brothers M A Parameswaran and Haridas of Mangalamkunnu purchased the elephant, which was renamed Mangalamkunnu Karnan.

Amiable traits, arresting presence

Renowned for its stately poise and calm behaviour, Karnan won the first position at temple festivals in Cherayi, Chekkumassery and Ithithanam, where the temple idol is carried by the tallest tusker.

Karnan was a regular presence at Nemmara-Vallangi ‘vela’ festival and the ‘pooram’ celebrations at Uthralikavu, Chinakkathoor, Kunnamkulam, Parkkady and Chiravarambathukavu.

During the 1990s, Karnan took part in the world-renowned Thrissur Pooram also. Karnan's last participation at a festival was in March last year.

Film star too

Incidentally, Karnan appeared in several blockbuster movies also, including ‘Aram Thamburan’, ‘Narasimham’ and ‘Thoovalkottaram.’ The tusker’s Bollywood debut was in Maniratnam’s ‘Dil Se.’

Jayaram offers condolences

Actor Jayaram, who is a well-known elephant lover, said that he was deeply pained over the demise of Karnan. “I have always admired Karnan and had once even tried to purchase the tusker,” he said.

“At that time, Karnan was owned by Manissery Hari and was known as Manissery Karnan. I asked Hari for an elephant and he wondered whether my request was a joke. But I told him that owning a tusker was a childhood dream,” said the actor, who is now shooting in Hyderabad.

Karnan during a temple festival in Pookottukalikavu.

Hari said Jayaram could choose anyone of the around 15 tuskers owned by him. Jayaram demanded Karnan and its mahout Parassery Chamy. Hari agreed. Jayaram then left for a shooting schedule and when he returned to Manissery, another handsome tusker named Mohanan attracted his attention. So, instead of Karnan, Jayaram bought Mohanan, which became famous as Jayaram Kannan.

“More than its beauty, Karnan’s attraction was that the tusker stood out when lined up along with other ornamented elephants,” the actor remembered.

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