This year's Bonalu celebrations will be infused with a heavy dose of cinematic glitz. From July 26 to August 2, Gajalakshmi Menaka, the 34-year-old elephant who appeared in 'Baahubali,' will be a part of the colourful celebrations in Secunderabad and Old City.
Menaka, who participated in the 2019 festivities, will take part in religious processions departing from the ancient Sri Ujjaini Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad on July 26, Sri Nalla Pochamma Temple in Sabzimandi on August 1, and Sri Akkanna Madanna Temple in Shahalibanda on August 2.
Because of Covid-19 limitations, the processions were cancelled last year. G Manohar Reddy, Executive Officer of Sri Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, stated that a special crew will carry Menaka in a truck on July 25 to participate in the procession the next day. A picture of the Goddess would be kept atop the elephant after a puja during the parade following the 'Rangam' ceremony.
A 10-member crew from the Nehru Zoological Park, including a veterinary doctor, would also accompany the elephant to cater to any emergency. Tranquilizers will be kept on hand in case they are required. The Endowments Department hired Menaka from Sri Veeratapaswi Veerabhadra Shivacharyaru of Savira Devar Mutt in Raichur, Karnataka, when authorities from the Nehru Zoological Park stated the elephant Rajani, who had previously been a part of the Bonalu celebration, was unable to participate owing to illness.
Menaka, on the other hand, has participated in religious processions in Raichur. Menaka has appeared in a number of films, but it was her role in 'Baahubali 2' in 2017 that propelled her to pachyderm stardom. Menaka received a health certificate from the Chief Veterinary Officer at Kadaganchi Veterinary Hospital in Karnataka a few months ago, certifying that she was in good health. According to the Chief Veterinary Officer, she might be utilised for religious and Mutt reasons.
When contacted, Sri Akkanna Madanna Temple patron G Niranjan stated that the Endowments Department had offered to assist in obtaining Menaka for the procession from the temple to the Musi River.