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Aanayoottu – Mass Feeding of Elephants in Kerala Hindu Temples - Aanayoottu Festival at Vadakkumnathan Temple

Elephants are an indispensable part of Hindu temples in Kerala. Aanayoottu or Aana Oottu is an important ritual in which mass feeding of elephants take place. ‘Aana’ in Malayalam means elephant and ‘oottu’ means to feed. In this mass feast, specially made rice preparations in the temples are given to the elephants.

The most famous Aanayoottu is the one held on the first day of the Ramayana Masam in the famous Vadakkumnathan temple in Kerala. Captive elephants from the region participate in this unique event which attracts thousands of people. The Vadakkumnathan temple is world famous for the Thrissur Pooram.

In the Vadakkumnathan temple, Ashta Dravya Maha Ganapathi homam – a puja dedicated to Lord Ganesha – is held before feeding the elephants. The Aanayoottu begins when the main priest feeds an elephant with the ‘prasad’ from the homam.

A Gaja pooja is also held during Aanayoottu.

Aanayoottu Festival at Vadakkumnathan Temple

The annual aanayoottu festival at Vadakkumnathan Temple in Kerala is observed on the first day of Karkidakam month (July 16 or July 17) as per traditional Malayalam calendar in Kerala. The ritual begin in 1982.

Nearly 70 elephants from different parts of the state participate in the annual festival.

In the festival, each elephant is given 5 kg of cooked rice, turmeric powder, ghee and other herbal medicines.

As per the ritual, the youngest elephant among the herd is fed first. 

For the annual Maha Ganapathi Homam more than 10,000 coconuts, 2,000 kg jaggery, 1,500 avil or beaten rice, 250 kg malar or puffed rice, 100 kg sesame seeds, 75 kg honey, sugarcane and Ganapathi naranga (citron) are used.