Kerala’s celebrity tusker Mangalamkunnu Karnan passes away with his head held high

The tusker, who won the title for the Thalappokkam competition at the Sreekumara Ganesha Temple in North Paravur nine times in a row, was known as the Emperor of Heights
Kerala’s celebrity tusker Mangalamkunnu Karnan passes away with his head held high
Mangalamkunnu Karnan

Celebrity bull elephant Mangalamkunnu Karnan passed away at the age of 60. The tusker, who has social media pages dedicated to him, was not just a star in Mollywood, but Bollywood as well. Just recently, Bollywood actress Preity Zinta shared a throwback picture from her Dil Se shoot diaries. In a picture she posted, Preity is seen dancing in front a herd of elephants for the movie’s popular track Jiya Jale, one of which was Karnan. The tusker, who has featured in many advertisements, had also starred in Mohanlal’s Narasimham and Jayaram’s Kathanayagan among others.

According to reports, Karnan was repatriated from Bihar by the Manissery Haridas Group in 1989 and the Mangalamkunnu family bought him in 2000. The tusker went from being known as Manissery Karnan to Mangalamkunnu Karnan by Mangalamkunnu brothers — Parameswaran and Haridas.

The brothers have already garnered fame for having raised many other elephants apart from Karnan. Their first pet elephant was Ayyappankutty, which they bought from Uttar Pradesh in 1978. Their home, Mangalamkunnu Tharavadu, is now known as Aana Tharavadu as the duo kept adding to the number of elephants. At one point, the family had as many as 18 elephants.

Mangalamkunnu Karnan
Mangalamkunnu KarnanJithin Vijay Photography

Karnan, who was 302 cm tall, had participated and won several Thalappokkam (head lifting) competitions in various temple festivals. Elephants participating in head lifting competitions are forced to keep their heads and trunks elevated for painfully long periods — sometimes even hours at a stretch. The tusker, who won the title for the Thalappokkam competition at the Sreekumara Ganesha Temple in North Paravur nine times in a row, was known as the Emperor of Heights. Karnan last participated in a temple festival in March 2019.

The tusker was suffering from age-related problems and is said to have died from a sudden cardiac attack early this morning. The elephant will be cremated after a post mortem at the Walayar forests today.

Meanwhile, social media is filled with condolences for the death of the tusker. While one user wrote, “A Malayali’s love for elephants is unfathomable. You will be in our hearts forever,” another added, “Lord of the Heads. Tributes to Mangalamkunnu Karna.”

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