By Taniya Dutta
This is the terrifying moment a temple elephant with two priests mounted on it, went on a two-hour rampage and injured several devotees during a ceremonial procession in India.
The 21-year-old male elephant, Gouri Nandan, was one among the 15 elephants that were brought for a Hindu festival ritual at Thazuthala Ganapathi Temple in Kollam in Kerala in southern India on January 19.
After hours of parading with two priests mounted on its back, an agitated Gouri suddenly went berserk and ploughed into the crowd, flinging onlookers and parked vehicles aside.
A group of spectators ran behind the animal to restrain it but the animal was only brought to its heel after organisers shot a tranquilliser.
In the hair-raising video, the heavily adorned elephant can be seen running after people as the priests stay on its top, clinging to each other most of the time.
At one point, several men grab its hind legs and try to stop the animal with all their might from further charging at people.
Elephants are an integral part of the cultural milieu of Kerala and are prominently displayed in festivals and processions. They are also conferred star status in the state with many of them even having fan clubs.
The animals are decorated with beautiful caparisons and made to parade for as long as 10 kms on a single day festival, carrying effigies of deities amid noise of orchestra and fireworks that sometimes agitate the highly-sensitive animal and result in such incidents.