The history, culture and custom of Kerala, is closely related to an animal which is believed to be divine and that is the Elephant. The legendary figures of this category includes Guruvayoor Kesavan, Guruvayoor Padmanabhan, Kottarakara Chandrasekharan and a few many. We can very well accommodate Kottarakara Krishnankutty to that fold of The Great tuskers. The festivals around Kottarakara were deeply related to this tusker for the last 60 years. Recently, at the age of 94, this godly elephant passed away. The life in and around Kottarakara, came to a standstill on hearing the sad news. By putting up huge flex boards and posters of Krishnankutty the people convened prayer meetings and remembrance gatherings. Devaswom board and the locals are planning to set up a fitting memorial to this tusker that has become a legend. Kottarakara Krishnankutty occupied the central position during the annual temple festivals in and around Kottarakara, especially in the famous Ganapathy and Mahadeva temples.
BEFORE SIXTY YEARS FROM THEVAPPURAM
The Gajaratnam was bought by the authorities of Kottarakara Padinjattinkara Mahadeva temple, from Sankupillai of Kaippallazhikathu in Thevappuram. Sankupillai obtained the Komban from a Christian family. Pillai had three more elephants in his folder. He was a famous timber merchant of those days. The tuskers were used for heavy loading works in the timber mill. Krishnankutty was never interested in the job at the timber mill. On the other hand, he always showed great interest in the ceremonial programmes in the temples, especially that of The Moonnumoorthy temple near the Kaippallazhikathu house. So Pillai sold Krishnankutty to the Kottarakara devaswam. Thus even though he became the native of Kottarakara, he never failed to attend the festivals of Moonnumoorthy.
One particular year, Krishnankutty was not feeling physically fit for the Ezhunnallathu due to a wound in his leg. So he was given rest. During the festival day of the Thevalappuram temple, the mahouts noticed that he was missing. All of them went around and finally they traced the elephant which was on his way to Thevalappuram. The mahouts accompanied Him to the Kaippallazhikathu house, from where he got food as usual. After that Krishnankutty went to the temple. He bowed before the Deity, and collected some oil from the kalvilakku and applied that over the wound. The temple authorities then gave the Thidambu to Krishnankutty and he led the festival as usual. Though, Krishnankutty was owned by the Padinjattinkara Mahadeva temple, he is widely known as the obedient servant of Kottarakara Ganapathy. Every morning, He starts from the Padinjattinkara temple to the Ganapathy temple. There, after completing the pradakshinam He would get Unniyappams. During the very famous festival of Maha Ganapathy,as many as sixty elephants from in and around take part. But the Thidambu would always be offered to Krishnankutty only. This is because of his peculiarities in this regard. The elephants usually fold their right leg in order to felicitate the Thidambettal. But Krishnankutty always folded his forelegs such as bowing in front of the Deity. At the time of Ezhunnallathu, Krishnankutty allowed none to come across Him and the Paanivilakku, which was lit from the Sanctum Santorum.
Once, when the glory of Moonuumoorthy temple was on the decline, a wonder occurred. On a festival day, as usual, the Thidambu was on Krishnankutty. Suddenly one of the priests walked across the Paanivilakku. This irritated Krishnankutty, He pulled down the priest who was sitting on Him. Krishnankutty started running round the area helter skelter, frightening everybody. But He did not try to harm any person. He selected some of the lands of the persons who were not taking adequate steps for the renovation of the temple and trampled everything on their land.
This incident necessitated the authorities and the locals to assemble together and conduct a Devaprasnam. As per the directions the renovation of the temple was done, thus regaining its lost glory.With this incident the Thevalappuram people’s affection and love towards Krishnankutty increased several folds. Marking the conclusion of the festival of Padinjattinkara Mahadeva, is the Aaraattu ezhunnallathu towards Thrikkannamangalam temple. The Devan longs to meet the Kadalayi Mana Devi there. But against his wish, the temple remains closed due to Devi’s ‘Thrippoothu’ (a feminine menstrual condition).The legend says that Mahadevan without having a glimpse of Devi returns frustrated. For years it is Krishnankutty who carries the thidambu for the ezhunellathu. Krishnankutty who appears exhilarated while walking towards the Devi returns dejected. This dejection on the part of Krishnankutty is viewed by the people as the sorrow on the part of the Devan Himself.
Krishnankutty has all the characteristics that go into the making of a perfect elephant - its high head, its strong tusks, its red tinted soft edged ears, its well shaped nails, its tusks touching the ground. But what sets it apart from all the other tuskers is its devotion and care towards the affairs of the temple.In fact in the history of the Travancore Devaswom Board there is no other elephant that has offered its service for such a long period of time. In spite of being a part in a lot of ezhunellathu’s it has never ever harmed a human being. On the day of Vinayaka Chathurthi, Kottarakara Mahaganapathy Temple used to offer Gajapuja to Krishnankutty. This speaks volumes of the love and regards the people had towards Him.The story of this gajarajan who left for His heavenly abode at the age of 94 will remain so long as the history of the temples of Kottarakara remain.