Event date: 21-02-2024

Venue: Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple

Every year in February – march , the sacred halls of the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple come alive with the thunderous rumble of elephantine footsteps. Within the town of Thrissur in Kerala, India, the magnificent Guruvayur Elephant Race known simply as Aanayottam attracts thousands of spectators. Decorated in colorful cloths and beads, the enormous beasts parade proudly down the winding track encircling the hallowed site. As the animals trot at a steady gait, their well-trained mahouts nimbly guide their massive charges. The winner is the elephant completing the circuit most swiftly, its skill ful handler receiving honors. The race is traditionally connected with the festival of Guruvayur, but it is not always in February or March, because the actual dates of the Guruvayur are carefully calculated to be 10 days before Pluto reaches the lowest declination of its orbit, which does not occur at the same date every year.

Cultural Importance: Aanayottam holds profound cultural and religious significance in Kerala, signifying the onset of the Utsavam festival at the Guruvayur Temple . It serves as a poignant tribute to the profound bond between elephants and Kerala’s heritage.

Guruvayur Elephant Racing:

The focal point of the Guruvayur Elephant Race undoubtedly rests on the riveting competition itself. Bedecked in vibrant attire, elephants vie for supremacy, showcasing their might and agility. The victor earns the esteemed privilege of carrying the Thidambu, an emblematic representation of the temple deity, during the festival procession .

Traditional Celebrations: In addition to the race itself, after the boats depart, visitors and locals share in many traditional celebrations, cultural displays and merrymaking that reflect the colourful cultural mosaic of Kerala. Going beyond mere sport, the Guruvayur Elephant Race can be seen as a manifestation of Kerala’s rich cultural heritage and devotion to elephants. The event is a moment of enthusiastic communal celebration for devotees, tourists and locals alike.