“Just like my father, I take care of the Arjuna and treat him as my family member.”
With the demise of his father Dodda Masthi, the responsibility of riding Arjuna elephant, which carries 750kg golden howdah has now fallen on shoulder 32-year-old Sannappa alias Mahesh, who belongs to Jeenu Kuruba community.
A 4th standard drop out appears to be little nervous to handle Arjuna. He states that the assigned task is bit a challenging for his experience, whereas he is full of confidence that he will succeed.
Sanappa who was taking care of Arjuna along with his father from last 12 years, says during dasara he used to take the elephant for practice on procession route, and only on Jumboo Savari day his father used to handle.
“This year I will handle the task, and am full confident that Arjuna will be obedient to me, and listens to my commands. I have the confidence in the next one month I can get much closer to him, and develop a strong bondage. Just like my father, I take care of the Arjuna and treat him as my family member,” he added.
“The elephant gets easily anger, moody, rude and some times arrogant. He gets irritated when people wander around him. He was listening to my father commands very well. Arjun was upset for some days when my father died, and refused to have food. He has the same bondage feeling with me, which cant be explained, whereas I feel it,” he adds.
Forest officials said: 'Arjuna elephant has developed a good relationship with Sannappa, and family members down the years. He listens to the commands of trainees, and Sanappa has the capacity to manage Arjuna. Still there is more than one and half months for dasara procession, and we watch the behaviour and bondage between them.'
Dodda Masthi had three sons, of which Sannappa is a middle one. Sannappa, with three daughters, two sons is leading a happy life at Balle Elephant Camp. He is working on temporary basis for Rs 9,000 and has a hope this year his job will be confirmed and will get salary of about Rs 16,000.