Lakshmi, the 32-year-old elephant at Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple in Puducherry, collapsed and died of suspected cardiac arrest on Wednesday morning.
Elephant Lakshmi, accompanied by her two mahouts, was taking her daily morning walk from her enclosure at Sri Vedapureeswarar Temple on Eswaran Kovil Street when she passed away.
Minutes later, the elephant was pronounced dead, leaving thousands of temple worshipers in shock. The cause of death is suspected to be cardiac arrest, but a clear picture will only emerge after the post-mortem report is released, government officials said.
The Governor of Puducherry, Dr. Tamilisi Soundararajan visited the temple to pay his respects. “I paid my last respects to the spiritual elephant of ‘Laxmi’ Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple in #Puducherry.
I remembered his blessings during my temple visits,” she tweeted.
“The mahout had taken the elephant for a morning walk on Wednesday. But it collapsed halfway and died. Preliminary inquest revealed that Lakshmi died of heart problems of Puducherry who treated Lakshmi like a member of their family,” said Minister of PWD of Puducherry, K Lakshminarayanan.
Indu Makkal Katchi tweeted, “Lakshmi was given 15 injections yesterday, says Ashok Rajan an animal activist. What were those injections, why was the regular doctor denied to treat her, and a PETA doc from Bangalore had to treat her?”
At the scene where the elephant suffered a heart attack and died, a Union Territory Government veterinarian who cared for the animal was also present.
He told PTI the animal was healthy before the unexpected cardiac arrest that ultimately led to his death. The pachyderm died after collapsing on a road near Calve College public high school.
Hundreds of people, who thronged the alley where the temple is located, could not control their emotions and were seen crying. “How can we understand this loss? Not just children, everyone who came to the temple played with the killer and received his blessing. We are sad and we cannot explain our grief with words,” said one devotee.
Many people have checked out the comments section and shared their responses. Some also shared their own experiences of meeting Lakshmi when she was alive.
One user wrote, “Respecting and loving nature/animals is part of Tamil culture…” while another commented, “This is a beautiful and deeply moving sentiment from the people of Puducherry. I sincerely hope that such respect and emotion should always be shown towards humanity as well.
Authorities said after the completion of the autopsy, the elephant would be cremated near the temple premises on Wednesday evening.
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