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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thiruvallikkeni Sri Varadha Rajar Yanai vahanam 2022 - Is Happy, happy ?

A beautiful attractive sculpture at Mahabalipuram – every visitor would like to take a photo and have a photo taken at this site !  

Centuries ago  in 1637, after the spectacular collapse of the Tulip mania in 1637, Holland's government contemplated the idea of taking control of New Netherland from the company and using the colony for resettlement of individuals impoverished by failed tulip bulb speculations.  Jonas Bronck  was born around year 1600 and died in 1643. Bronck was an immigrant to the Dutch colony of New Netherland after whom the Bronx River, and by extension, the county and New York City borough of the Bronx are named.  The Bronx River approximately 24 miles (39 km) long,  flows through southeast New York in the United States. 

The Bronx Zoo  is one of the largest zoos in the United States by area, has naturalistic habitats separated by the Bronx River.  The zoo opened in 1899 with 843 animals in 22 exhibits.  Today, the Bronx Zoo is world-renowned for its large and diverse animal collection, and its award-winning exhibitions – but the news is all about whether – ‘Happy is happy or unhappy!’.   HaH

Happy, by species, is an Asian elephant. But can she also be considered a person?  - that was the Q before New York’s highest court on Wednesday in a closely watched case over whether a basic human right can be extended to an animal. 

The advocates at the Nonhuman Rights Project say yes: Happy is an autonomous, cognitively complex elephant worthy of the right reserved in law for “a person”.  The Bronx Zoo, where Happy resides, says no: through an attorney, the zoo argues Happy is neither illegally imprisoned nor a person, but a well-cared-for elephant “respected as the magnificent creature she is.” .. . Happy has lived at the Bronx Zoo for 45 years. The state court of appeals heard arguments over whether she should be released through a habeas corpus proceeding, which is a way for people to challenge illegal confinement. The Nonhuman Rights Project wants her moved from a “one-acre prison” at the zoo to a more spacious sanctuary. “She has an interest in exercising her choices and deciding who she wants to be with, and where to go, and what to do, and what to eat,” project attorney told the Associated Press ahead of the oral arguments. “And the zoo is prohibiting her from making any of those choices herself.”  The group said that in 2005, Happy became the first elephant to pass a self-awareness indicator test, repeatedly touching a white “X” on her forehead as she looked into a large mirror. 

The zoo and its supporters warn that a win for advocates at the Nonhuman Rights Project could open the door to more legal actions on behalf of animals, including pets and other species in zoos. “If there’s going to be an entire rewrite and a granting to animals of rights that they never had before, shouldn’t that be done by the legislature?” attorney for zoo operator Wildlife Conservation Society, asked the judges. 

Happy was born in the wild in Asia in the early 1970s, captured and brought as a one-year-old to the US, where she was eventually named for one of the characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. She arrived at the Bronx Zoo in 1977 and has been living otherwise happily in an  enclosure adjacent to the zoo’s other elephant, Patty. The zoo’s attorney argued in court filings that Happy can swim, forage and engage in other behavior natural for elephants. NRP’s attorneys say no matter how Happy is being treated at the zoo, her right to “bodily liberty” is being violated. They argue that if the court recognises Happy’s right to that liberty under habeas corpus, she will be a “person” for that purpose. And then she must be released.  Lower courts have ruled against the NRP. And the group has failed to prevail in similar cases, including those involving a chimpanzee in upstate New York named Tommy. But last October, at the urging of a different animal rights group, a federal judge ruled that Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s infamous “cocaine hippos” could be recognised as people or “interested persons” with legal rights in the US. The decision had no real ramifications for the hippos themselves, given that they reside in Colombia.  

Moving away from Happy but to real Happiness – back home in India, at Mamallapuram (on the backside of Thiruvidanthai divyadesam) – are these most attractive Pallava sculptures.  Arjuna’s Penance, a bas-relief of Mamallapuram, is one of the most celebrated sculptures in town. The best known though, is that it depicts Arjuna doing penance to win the pasupatastra (the most powerful weapon) from Lord Shiva.  .. .. and here one finds the interesting Elephant herd.  The father and the mother elephant look majestic, while their offspring are caught in a playful mood; one fellow even tries to do a somersault. Below the tusk of the larger elephant, if one looks closely, one can see a cat performing penance, and cunningly tricking some mice to play around his feet.  The elephants could have additional significance—they may symbolize the protective capacity of the Pallava rulers over their people, since in the real world elephants almost always have just a single calf, and here we see at least seven. The emblem of power and imperial status elephants are given a significant place in the Pallava royal regalia and occupy the sacred precinct of temple architecture. The elephant imagery dominates in the royal as well as divine processions in the artistic compositions, and as the symbol of majesty carved monolith elephants take a prominent place in the schema of architectural edifices. The portrayal of elephants in the natural settings also find place in Pallava environmental representations.    

I love elephants .. .. .. and for sure, this pristine Silver elephant too .. today on 18.5.2022 – it is day 6 of Sri Varadha Raja Perumal uthsavam and at Thiruvallikkeni, it is Yanai vahanam.  Sri Devathirajar on a silver elephant.   The annual Uthsavam at Thirukachi was initiated by Brahma himself. Indira’s white elephant Iravatham took the form of a hill called Hastigiri on which shrine of Varadharajar is located ~ and perhaps it was the same Iravatham which had the fortune of carrying Perumal today. 

Seated on the  elephant, Sri Varadhar was sublime –  it was indeed a great pleasure to behold and sharing such darshan with you all in the form of photos taken by me during the purappadu.  

adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasan Sampathkumar




  1. Very nice photos and write-up - Barath

  2. very intrestingly written post - elephantine .. i love this - Sudha