Before traveling to India, I thought that once I were there, I would want to ride an elephant. I used to think that the idea of being up in an animal so beautiful, so great, so strong was incredible; I believed that if I did not do it, could be possibly to not have the opportunity again. However through my days living there these ideas changed, I fell in love of these animals, with their majesty, beauty, nobility and expressive eyes; I never felt more than them and I did not have heart to ride them.
In India elephants are used in various ways, there are those that are considered sacred and live in temples, they spend their days receiving offerings and giving blessings. Also there are those who have been born and bred in captivity in elephant camps or have been bought by unscrupulous people, they are used to entertain and delight of tourists and a few of them live free in natural parks.
In a city called Udupi near to Manipal in Karnataka state, where I lived the first three months of my journey through India. There is a Krishna temple where resides a sacred elephant, which is just beautiful and so perfect; its color is not gray but is a mixture of brown and beige, has many moles on his forehead, in his trunk and ears; on his neck hung three bells that makes it look even more beautiful. He always is there waiting for people to come to him to receive his blessing, I did it once, I approached him with an offering of money and he held out his trunk to receive the money, then handed it to a man who were there with him and turned to me, he wait for me to bend over my head for blessing me with trunk. The truth was incredible, it was a very strange feeling and I could feel in my whole body his weight and the strength of its immensity. But I never did it again. You imagine all the abuse this poor animal to teach him all that, so everything is not pink color.
One day I read a story about an elephant, it told that a little elephant had been tied him a chain to one of his legs and he every night tried to break it away, however as it was a small elephant did not have the necessary strength to break it. Despite not being strong enough to break the chain, the elephant he kept trying every night, until one day he give up and not tried it anymore. Now you can see a huge and strong elephant with a little rusty chain attached to his leg, why do not he goes away? Why not break the chain? Simple, it is an elephant born in captivity and when he was small tried many times and failure, now surely could break the chain but he believes he cannot. This is the story of the vast majority of elephants in India, which is reflected in their eyes of sadness that seems they want to talk.
In India elephants are considered sacred as a result to the reverence to their god Ganesh, remover of obstacles and god of luck; human body, elephant head. That is why apart from the cows, which are everywhere, you can see elephants in most cities, especially in the south. India is a large country, so that different areas of the country have different types of territory, northwest is the Thar Desert, northeast are the Himalayas, the southern tropical part, rich in vegetation and that is where we find the largest population of elephants. For this reason there are many natural parks where live free elephants in their own habitat. If you’re lucky and you are going across any of the parks towards a nearby city, you’ll watch them walk on herd or feeding near the road, while you’re on the bus or in what you are transported. I was fortunate enough to see some and is really beautiful, the bad thing is that I could not get a good picture of them but they are in my mind.
Elephants are very intelligent animals with a really good memory, it is said that if one day you do something wrong to an elephant, he would always remember that and if he has the opportunity, he will kill you. Elephants and all animals are majestic creatures that deserve to be respected and protected. Human beings are nothing but them and the only thing that differentiates us is that we possess consciousness, so we can choose between good and evil; among this, respect the lives of all those wonderful beings.
Versión en Español: ELEFANTES SAGRADOS, DE COLORES Y MALTRATADOS