Tusker Abhimanyu’s back is protected with three layers of cushions as he carries a 750-kg golden cistern during the Vijayadashami procession. Apart from protecting your back, the cushions also help to balance the ‘ambri’ that is tied to your belly using thick ropes.
The forest department takes great care in making the cushion as a special type of grass is used to make a layer of cushion. This grass – saccharam – is bought (from Mandya), dried and stuffed into a rectangular shaped sack. Grasses about 6 to 7 feet tall are chosen and only this type of grass is used to ensure that the cushion remains firm.
Earlier there were people who used to sew grass cushions but now forest workers make cushions for the backs of elephants.
“The bottom padding is made of grass, the middle layer is made of coir and the upper layer of the cushion is also made of coir. The total weight from the three layers of cushions together is about 160 kg and the weight of the grass cushion alone is 125 kg. The cushions help support the tusker’s back,” said V.V., deputy conservator of wildlife. Karikalan said.
They told Hindu That every year the grass cushion is made anew and the forest workers bought the grass from Mandya in about 20 days. “The cushion is getting ready.”