Irreverent elephants

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My dear Diyawadana Nilamey,

I never thought I would be writing to you this week but I feel I must. That is because the ‘Esala Perahera’ is the talk of the town these days, after some elephants went berserk the other day, trying to get into the Queens Hotel and causing a state of general chaos and anxiety in the streets of Kandy.

In most other nations such an incident would be assessed for what it is, steps will be taken to prevent it happening again and people will quickly move on to other issues. This, however, is Paradise where you can convince people that the King of Snakes emerges from the Kelani River into a plastic bottle!

If people in Paradise are so moved by such stories that they decide to vote for a particular person, you can just imagine, Diyawadana Nilamey, what the impact would be from this week’s incident because legend has it that elephants running amok at the perahera is a bad omen for the rulers of Paradise.

You should be thankful that Mahinda maama is not in charge now. The superstitious person that he is, he would have called Sumaney who could have even asked him to change the dates of the perahera and you would have had to do that. Sumaney did something similar once. We know how that ended.

Uncle Ranil, despite the odd trip to Tirupati, doesn’t care about such beliefs, so you needn’t worry. However, it is the people in Paradise you need to be concerned about because they might embrace the belief that elephants running amok at the perahera means a change of rulers at the next election.

That is why it is important, Diyawadana Nilamey, to find out why the elephants went on a rampage and whether there was a conspiracy to topple the Government by using this strategy to convince voters that the time is ripe for change. As those in the Government say, our Opposition will stoop to anything!

These days the Government accuses the Opposition of using the problems in cricket to their advantage. The Opposition is trying to get recognition for cricket withdrawn hoping that it will cause an uprising, the Government claims. If that is indeed true, what is to stop the Opposition from using the perahera?

For instance, the Opposition did try to use the ‘aragalaya’ to their benefit, although the only person who was able to do that was Uncle Ranil. Still, the events in Kandy last week looked eerily similar to what happened on May 9 last year: People running in all directions and then jumping into a lake!

Maybe we can blame the ‘aragalaya’ for this too. The Government blames the ‘aragalaya’ for the economic crisis. Namal baby blames the ‘aragalaya’ for the fertiliser issue, and says those involved must be ‘rehabilitated’, so what’s one more added to that list – we can then ‘rehabilitate’ the elephants!

Or else, you can adopt Wimal sahodaraya’s position and say that this was all the result of an international conspiracy to destroy our 2,500-year heritage and centuries old tradition. If you ask him, I’m sure he will even write a book for you explaining in great detail why the elephants ran amok.

This is why you must do your best to ensure that the elephants don’t misbehave during the remaining days of the perahera, Diyawadana Nilamey. There is no use asking Deshabandhu for help because elephants, unlike university students, don’t usually respond well to water cannons and tear gas.

I don’t know what the best strategy for that is right now, but you can try a few tricks that You-Know-Who resorted to recently. You can postpone the rest of the perahera even though part of it has already been completed. You could always say, ‘there is no money, even if there was, there is no perahera’!

Or else, you could detain the elephants who ran amok under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. After all, people who caused far less commotion than what those elephants did the other day were detained for months before being released. That may a good tactic to keep them away from where the action is.

If you feel your case is not strong enough for that, you can always detain those elephants under what they call the ‘ICCPR’. Surely, if someone can be detained for insulting Buddhism by saying Prince Siddhartha is King Suddhodana’s son, what those elephants did insulted Buddhism even more?

Circulating a story that the elephants were affected by shining lights or by setting foot on burning copra is smart if it was done to shift attention away from the ‘bad omen’ theory but the elephants did run amok. Remember, Diyawadana Nilamey, for most simple folk in Paradise, that is all that matters.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: A few elephants did cause some problems last week, but the real chaos among the elephants will begin next month when Uncle Ranil appoints the ‘leadership council’ for the Greens and the big elephants – Ruwan, Ravi, Vajira, Naveen, Sagala and Akhila – start running amok trying to outdo each other!