Guruvayur Keshavan

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Guruvayoor Kesavan's Statue at Guruvayur.

Gajarajan Guruvayur Keshavan (death: December 2, 1976)[1] is perhaps the most famous and celebrated captive elephant in Kerala, southern India. Keshavan was donated to the Guruvayur Hindu temple by the royal family of Nilambur on 4th of January in 1922 .[2] It is a common Hindu custom in Kerala to capture elephants either as calves or young adults from the wild and to donate them to the deity of the temple as an offering. Guruvayur temple has in excess of 50 elephants.

Standing over 3.2 meters tall, Keshavan was known for his devout behavior. Keshavan died on December 2, 1976 aged 72, which happened to be Guruvayur Ekadasi, considered a very auspicious day. He fasted for the entire day and dropped down facing the direction of the temple with his trunk raised as a mark of prostration. The anniversary of his death is still celebrated in Guruvauyur. Many elephants line up before the statue and the chief elephant garlands it. Keshavan was conferred the unique title "Gajarajan" (Elephant King), by the Guruvayoor Devaswom.

The Guruvayoor Devaswom erected a life-size statue of Keshavan in its precincts as tribute to the services he rendered to the presiding deity of the temple. Its tusks, along with a majestic portrait of the elephant, can be still seen adorning the entrance to the main temple enclosure. Its life is the subject of the 1977 Malayalam feature film Guruvayur Kesavan, released the year after his death. The film was directed by Bharathan, starring M. G. Soman, Adoor Bhasi, Sankaradi, Bahadoor, Jayabharathi, Vennira Aadai Nirmala (ushakumari), Veeran, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, junior sheela, M S Nambudiri, N Govindankutty, Paravoor Bharathan and Manavalan Joseph zoomed by Ashok Kumar (cinematographer). The story of Guruvayoor Kesavan was later portrayed in a television serial on Surya TV, (2009—2010).

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