Burma welcomes rare white elephant
Published 10/08/2010 | 09:32
Burma's ruling junta held a lavish welcome ceremony for a rare white elephant, a traditional symbol of power and prosperity, state media has reported.
The Myanmar Ahlin newspaper said top military leaders greeted the 38-year-old female elephant upon its arrival in the remote capital of Naypyitaw by sprinkling the animal with scented water.
White elephants, actually albinos, have for centuries been revered in Burma, Thailand, Laos and other Asian nations. They were normally kept and pampered by monarchs and considered a symbol of royal power and prosperity.
The event included a formal naming ceremony and prayers for the elephant.
The elephant was recently captured in the jungles of north-western Burma and transported by boat and truck to Naypyitaw, where it was given the name Bhaddavati, or "One Who is Endowed With Goodness" in a formal naming ceremony, the Myanmar Ahlin newspaper reported.
Military leaders greeted the 7ft 4in (2.2m) animal and sprinkled it with scented water during a ceremony at the Uppatasanti Pagoda, a replica of the famed Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, the former capital and biggest city in Burma.
The white elephant marched in a parade of other elephants and circled the pagoda, where religious sermons were delivered for its safety and well-being, the newspaper said.
It will be housed in an enclosure at the foot of the temple.
Bhaddavati is the fourth white elephant captured and held in captivity in Burma in recent years. The other three are kept at a special park in Rangoon, where they live in an enclosure with spiralled pavilions, a man-made waterfall, ponds and trees.