The Elephant Race or Anayottam
By Govind Kumar
This is another unique event in Guruvayur. Mythology has a function. Myths are not superstitions. Mythology adumbrates philosophic verities. Mythology keeps different people, culture and the nation itself as one unit. These events are not broken at any point in time. To the rational question, why are these events so important, we have to say these things perrtain to the Lord and Faith and cannot be found out by Rationalism !
In every man, there exists a responsiveness to Ultimate Reality, a super conscious reminiscence, of the truths and glories the Soul had known and would like to know again and again !
Amongst all rituals in Guruvayur, most exciting is this Elephant Run. Now many temples are imitating and have started Elephant Races !
Legend has it that once upon a time, the date for the temple festival arrived. Flag Hoisting concomitant with the inauguration of the Temple Festival had to be performed. Kodipoorathu Vilakku or Lamp on Flag needed elephants. Despite all arrangements, none of the elephants had arrived on the spot. The Chief Priest et al were in the horns of a dilemma and breaking a ritual was unthinkable ! Many of those present broke into tears and prayers !
Lo and behold ! At around 0300 PM, the clanging sound of chains was heard at Manjula Althara. The Zamorin and priests were all dumbfounded. Those running elephants came and stopped near the Temple, as if paying tribute to the Lord of Guruvayur ! That was the first Anayottam at Guruvayur and the tradition is carried down to this day !