Decorated Elephants of India

Decorated-Indian-Elephants-TrunkImage: Walter G

Which country comes to mind first, when talking of elephants? India! For some reason, people have always connected elephants with India when surprisingly enough, its not even the country’s national animal! This is perhaps because only in India elephants are elaborately decorated, painted and celebrated like nowhere else in the world. We decided to explore and learn the significance behind the decorated elephants of India and surprisingly in addition to the mythological significance, we found a lesson in living this adorable animal brings us. Curious how so? Read on…


The city of Jaipur in Rajasthan celebrates the Elephant festival every year. Elephants share a royal importance in the state of Rajasthan. They have always been used as a mode of royal transport by the ‘Maharajas’ to travel from one region to another and also as a loyal escort on battle fields back in the day. Jaipur, being the capital city of Rajasthan, used to witness and celebrate parades of victorious kings on elephant backs, making rounds of the city in honor of winning a war. This tradition has been kept alive over generations and now attracts several foreign tourists that get to witness this glorious site in the month of March every year.

Elephants also hold a great significance in Hindu mythology. One, as the custom vehicle of Lord Indra who is considered as the god of heaven in the Hindu culture. And second, the elephant is believed to have offered his head to Lord Ganesha, who was once beheaded by his own angry father. Hence the elephant is not only celebrated but also respected and prayed by the Hindus.

Decorated-Indian-Elephants-National-GeographicImage: National Geographic photographer Charles Fréger

Elephant-Festival-Jaipur-MarchImage: The annual elephant festival in Jaipur

Decorated-Indian-Elephants-SideGeometric and floral pattern adorned by a rainbow of beautiful colors and a headband on this adorable elephant. Image: Mullerian Duct via Flickr

However, one of the coolest things we found out about elephants was that they are obedient, calm and caring for their like. They follow the call of their leader no matter what and have a great memory that seldom lets them forget places that they’ve been before. 

When Hindus worship the elephant, they symbolically worship these admirable qualities of the animal. Obedience, ability to not repeat past mistakes and respect and care towards peers. The elephant represents qualities of a good disciple in the Hindu culture. The big ears of an elephant are symbolic of how one should listen more than speak. When he needs to accomplish a certain task, physical pain, tiredness, hunger and thirst are no obstacles and elephants do not fear anything or anybody, and yet, they are extremely docile beings.

Decorated-Indian-Elephants-South-IndiaImage: Decorated temple elephants in Kanchipuram by Hermes on Wings

We came across this freshly creative ad-campaign by Hermes that was launched back in spring of 2008 for the promotion of their pink and orange collection. The elephant seems to symbolically represents the brands image, with lots of grace and style.

Decorated-Indian-Elephants-Hermes-Ad-CampaignImage: Pop Sugar

Decorated-Indian-Elephants-Hermes-Ad-Campaign-BagsImage: Pop Sugar

Can you think of any other animal that is so huge yet so adorable? After writing this post, witnessing the grand Elephant Festival in Jaipur goes straight to my bucket list. How would you like to join me sometime?


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