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The Elephant Parade, Mumbai: Art Initiative for Wildlife Conservation

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on 19 days ago

© Courtesy of internet resources

Yesterday, the 25th of February, Mumbai witnessed one of the most outstanding events ever. A collaboration of the art and design fraternity for the conservation of wildlife – is certainly a concept that India can benefit from. And when you see 101 resplendently decorated baby elephant statues on the streets of Mumbai, it is bound to be an experience of a different kind! And when you know Amitabh Bachchan has also participated and created one of these artworks – you have no choice but to shake off the Sunday slumber and head to the venue of the launch – the Gateway of India! So that’s what I did, and came back with a wonderful experience…


The Elephant Parade has come to Mumbai. After traveling around the world and swinging their trunks in Jaipur and Delhi, the global exhibition-cum-conservation initiative Elephant Parade has finally come to Mumbai. The exhibition was opened at the Gateway of India in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, who is the founder of People for Animals, and MP Poonam Mahajan, who is the Parade ambassador.

© Courtesy of internet resources

The Elephant Parade comprises 101 baby elephant statues crafted out of fiberglass, by Baroda-based installation artist Manish Maheshwari. The adorable pieces have then been embellished in their own trademark style by each of the participants - artists, designers and well-known personalities. The initiative which is one of the most public initiatives for the protection of the Asian elephant aims to draw attention to the dwindling population of the elephants across Asia. In partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India, this public initiative will help to build awareness about elephant conservation and raise money for the cause. These 101 elephants will be auctioned to raise money to build 101 elephant corridors across India. Corridor-building creates channels that connect elephant habitats so that the animals can roam safely; and thereby minimizes elephant-human conflict.

© Courtesy of Amitabh Bachchan, The Elephant Parade

Curated by Art consultant Farah Siddiqui, the art-show has succeeded in bringing together creative people from varied walks of life. Fine arts, folk art, tribal art, design institutes, product designers, architects, interior designers, fashion designers, fashionistas, theatre artists, and film personalities – all have collaborated in this fine venture. It is indeed a delight to see Amitabh Bachchan creating this blue elephant with botanical art and an inscription of one of Shri. Harivanshrai Bachchan’s poems; and proudly sharing it on all his social media handles.

© Courtesy of Amitabh Bachchan, The Elephant Parade

Then there is Adivasi artist and recent Padma Shri winner Bhajju Shyam who has created a delightful elephant using the Gond style (tribal art of Madhya Pradesh). “Adivasis are often blamed for the destruction of forests, but they take only what they need to survive, no more. I wanted to present the natural harmony of the forest and hence have shown all creatures being carried to safety aboard this elephant,” he says.

© Courtesy of Bhajju Shyam, The Elephant Parade

#HelptheHathi sees architect-turned-artist and a celebrated one - Arzan Khambatta put up a stunner called Holey Pachyderm; while other architect friends have contributed some amazing art too! Lovely pieces have come from the studio of Sanjay Puri; and the dynamic team of Kayzad Shroff, Maria Shroff Leon and Rooshad Shroff. Abha Narain Lambah, and Zubin Zainuddin and Krupa Zubin are the other participants from the architect fraternity.

© Courtesy of Arzan Khambatta, The Elephant Parade
© Courtesy of Sanjay Puri, The Elephant Parade
© Courtesy of Kayzad Shroff and Maria Leon Shroff working on their Elephant for the Parade
© Courtesy of Kayzad Shroff, Maria Leon Shroff and Rooshad Shroff, The Elephant Parade.

Other beautiful pieces have come from the studios of Sabhyasachi, Tarun Tahiliani and Anita Dongre! Each of the pachyderms carries a unique narrative that connects with the viewers, on different levels. 

© Courtesy of Sabhyasachi, The Elephant Parade
© Courtesy of Anita Dongre and Tarun Tahiliani, The Elephant Parade

The elephants will be displayed in various locations of Mumbai over the next three weeks – starting on February 28th. Till 6th March they will be seen at Worli seaface, Priyadarshini Park, Palladium Mall, Siddhi Vinayak temple and Mantralaya.  From March 8-11, the display will move to the central suburbs, in R City Mall, Ghatkopar, Phoenix Marketcity Kurla and the Grand Hyatt in Kalina. March 9 to 11 will see them at Reliance Jio Gardens in the Bandra-Kurla Complex. From March 14-18, the Elephant Parade will move to the western suburbs —- Carter Road Beach and Amphitheatre, Bandra Fort, Infiniti Malls in Andheri and Malad, Taj Land’s End in Bandra and the Bombay Arts Society in Bandra.

Hosted by Elephant Family, the UK non-profit organization the initiative will encourage public participation in the cause of elephant conservation. As the elephants tour the city, you can donate an amount towards conservation efforts or bid to buy one of the 101 elephants on paddle.com. Prices start from INR 3-5 lakhs.

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