No single elephant has yet proved itself able to fill Raja’s considerable boots, and at present the role of Maligawa Tusker is shared between various different elephants. All Maligawa Tuskers must fulfil certain physical requirements. Only male elephants are permitted to carry the relic and, most importantly, they must be Sathdantha elephants, meaning that all seven parts of their body – the four legs, trunk, penis and tail – must touch the ground when they stand upright. In addition, the elephant’s tusks must be formed in the curved shape of a traditional winnow, and it must have a flat back and reach a height of around twelve feet. It has proved increasingly difficult to find such “high-caste” elephants locally, although the temple already owns several suitable beasts, including ones donated by notables including various prime ministers of Sri Lanka and India, as well as the king of Thailand.

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