What is Phajaan? It means "crush the spirit," so the elephant gives up its will to live as an elephant to its abusers, the mahouts.
"In Thailand and India the villagers believe that in order for an elephant to be tame and suitable for work, it must go through a religious process called Phajaan.
The ordeal begins when [a calf is either stolen from the wild or] an unsuspecting elephant calf stumbles upon an Indian or Thailand village. As soon as its spotted the villagers chase the already nervous and confused little elephant into a makeshift wooden cage. The cages used are so small that the elephant within can barely move.
However this tiny piece of freedom is taken away as the villagers tie the elephant’s legs together and chain it down. Once the elephant calf in firmly restrained the village’s spiritual leader climbs onto it’s back and proceeds to drive a spike into it’s head. He/she then says a traditional prayer, which means “Elephant, if you stop struggling then we won’t hurt you”.
The act of violence preformed by the spiritual leader is only the beginning for the petrified little elephant. For the next three to six days the villagers take turns at driving nails and other nasty objects into the elephant’s sensitive spots, as well as pelting it with stones and beating it with clubs. It is allowed no water, food or sleep during this time.
During the silent nights, evenings and mornings that fall upon the village, the only sounds that can be heard are from the tortured elephant. It bellows in agony, desperately trumpets for help, even screaming and crying for it’s mother as a human child would. The villagers laugh and jeer as the young elephant suffers from uncontrollable diarrhea – No doubt caused by the suffering it is enduring.
It is a constant struggle for the elephant calf to remain standing. It’s legs are tied together, and the ground is quite slippery: Covered in the elephant’s own blood, urine and feces. If failing to stand up straight, the punishment is swift and brutal.
Eventually this torture and deprivation breaks the young elephant’s spirit, and supposedly breaks the bond between it and it’s mother. The spiritual leaders can apparently sense when an elephant’s spirit has changed (broken), and when this happens, the elephant is released.
Not all of the elephants put through this ordeal survive, as those with the stronger spirits die from torture, thirst and starvation."
via WWA Animal Awareness
Read more about the phajaan: [shared from http://preciousjules1985.wordpress.com/tag/phajaan/ ]
- Every thing you need to know about the Phajaan. News stories on the Phajaan & Hell for wildlife in tourism:-
- Petitions to sign: