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Elephant beauty contest in Nepal

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CHITWAN, Nepal, Dec 29  — It’s freezing cold at the bank of Rapti river on Friday morning but Aar Mohammad, 20, a mahout, is busy bathing his elephant for the beauty contest at the Chitwan Elephant festival.

“I came here early morning because today is the beauty contest, normally I
bathe my elephant at 11 am,” he told Xinhua. Pinki is one the three elephants selected for the final round of the beauty contest and Aar is the man behind her beauty and intelligence.Aar takes Pinkey to her hut after a 15-minute walk from the Rapti river.

“I hope she wins today,” he told Xinhua, drawing different symbols on her
body.Red, green, blue and black colors were painted on her body for symbols and signs designed by Aar, though not a professional painter.

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His neighbours, passers-by and tourists came to his house and wished him good luck. Some took a very short ride and gave fruits and food to Pinki. After having food, Aar and his brother Dosh Mohammad, 24, who assist him, left for the beauty contest with Pinkey.

The venue was already crowded and organisers were ready for the  final round of the third Elephant Beauty peasant organized in Sauraha. Five elephants have participated in the beauty pageant and three were picked for the final round.

On Friday afternoon, beautifully dressed up with colorful makeup, Pinky Kali,
Prakriti Kali and Chitwan Kali walked on the ramp. Audience cheered them on
while a team of judges looked at their physical hygiene,body structures, their
nails and dresses.

The event seemed like any other beauty pageants however with elephants as
the participants. And beauty wasn’t the only criterion, the elephants’ intelligence was also judged. Elephants had to perform a catwalk, shake hands
and greet as requested by the judges.

The team of judges finally decided to give the beauty award to Chitwan Kali,
an elephant from the Chitwan National Park.

“I am very happy that Chitwan Kali won the award,” Rameshwore Prashad
Chaudhary, an official from Chitwan National Park told Xinhua. “She has got
beautiful eyes and body and there are no scars on her body.”

On Friday evening during the closing of the festival, Information Minister
Raj Kishore Yadav handed the prize of the beauty contest to Chiwan Kali and
runner-up prize to Prakriti Kali.

“The elephant beauty contest is one of the major attractions of the festival
and we will continue it in the future,” Suman Ghimire, an organiser of the
festival told Xinhua, adding “we are also thinking of adding more categories and changing the judging strategy.”

Elephant beauty contest has been organised in Nepal thrice and the Elephant
Festival is in its ninth year. The organisers said that the festival has
contributed a lot to attracting tourists thus increasing national revenue as
well as creating awareness among people regarding the conservation of elephants.

Aar’s Pinki didn’t receive any award this year. She and her owner returned
home empty handed. “It didn’t go as I expected,” Aar told Xinhua at his residence, a one-storey house with a tin roof.

“It’s not that you have to always win,” Aar said to himself. Pinki is the
main source of income for his family. I will take more care of Pinki now,” Aar said with determination.
— BERNAMA