New Film Shows Brutalization of Temple Elephants in India
A new documentary exposes the plight of Kerala’s temple elephants.
Every year from December through May, the state of Kerala, in southern India, experiences a frenzy of religious ceremonies. Millions of people participate in the festivities, which honor various gods. At the center of these celebrations are hundreds of captive elephants, ornately decorated and paraded around temples and along Kerala streets.
But behind the pageantry, the Kerala elephants endure “hell,” as Sangita Iyer, the director and executive producer of the documentary Gods in Shackles, puts it. The film details the lives of the temple elephants.
Kerala has some 600 captive elephants, the vast majority males. Iyer says these animals are shackled, tortured, beaten, or starved on a daily basis. Between 2012 and 2015, 175 died and this year eight have