A Little Girl And An Elephant Share The Most Beautiful Friendship
Pooja is a young girl that spends all of her winter’s in India. She has a fondness for animals and the animals in India absolutely adore her too. However. none love her as much as her special friend, Shanti the elephant. You won’t believe how this wonderful friendship shared between a little girl and a temple elephant began.
Every day, six-year-old Pooja goes to the market in India to buy a bunch of tomatoes for her friend Shanti. She picks them up and places them all into a basket. But who is her friend Shanti?
19. Temple Elephant
Shanti is a temple elephant and Pooja goes to see her every day. Their friendship amazes everyone that sees them! So how did this extraordinary friendship begin?
18. The Start
It all started with Pooja’s incessant desire to go see elephants up close. Her parents are journalists from Hamburg and spend their time in India during the winter months. Pooja has always loved animals and cares for many of the strays she sees.
17. National Park
The little girl refuses to leave her parents alone about seeing an elephant. So one day they plan a trip to the national park Mudumalai in the south of India. In this park, wild elephants roam around freely without a care in the world.
16. So Many Elephants
When Pooja first got there she was completely overwhelmed. She had never expected to see so many elephants all at once. She could hardly contain her joy!
It was on this trip that the family became acquainted with Subbu, a tracker that grew up in the wild. He accompanied them into the jungle. Subbu began to explain to Pooja that elephants are sacred animals in India.
14. Sacred Animals
Subbu explained that because elephants are so scared you will often see them in temples in India. Temple life isn’t good for elephants, Subbu explained. So once a year their mahouts (caregivers) send the elephants out into the jungle for a holiday.
13. Holiday Trip
“Once a year, they go off to the jungles with their mahouts for their holiday. This is why you can see so many elephants here right now,” Subbu explained to Pooja. There were more than 60 temple elephants in the midst of Pooja.
12. Two Mahouts
Soon Pooja met two mahouts, Jambu and Arjun, and their elephant, Shanti. Unlike the other mahouts who would shout at the elephants, Jambu and Arjun would calmly speak to their elephants. Pooja immediately liked them!
“We met the female elephant Shanti almost everyday,” Pooja explained. “I was allowed to help in washing and feeding her.” Soon Shanti became Pooja’s absolute favorite elephant out of the bunch.
10. New Friendship
The elephant also seemed to like Pooja and would show her in various ways. Shanti would be very playful with Pooja and would be by her side quite often. It was from this point on that their strong friendship began.
“I sat there and there she suddenly was with her trunk. Then she started to pull my t-shirt and to tickle my neck,” Pooja said, recalling the experience. “I have always wondered after that as to how she could guess that I was so ticklish.”
8. A Surprise
Then one day Pooja came up with a sweet idea. She wanted to surprise Shanti with a gift. So she went to the market and purchased a bunch of tomatoes and wrapped them up as a surprise.
7. A Gift
“I once bought tomatoes and packed them in a large carton. Wrapped in gift wrapping paper and decorated with a ribbon. I thought she would not know what was inside if I pack the tomatoes so well,” Pooja explained.
6. Great Senses
“But she knew right from the start though I was still far away from her. Elephants have a very good sense of smell. She smelled them from far away.” She even recalls how heavy the box was as she carried it over to Shanti.
5. Heavy Box
“I also had to carry the package, not the whole way but I had to carry them. The package was heavy. It was 9kgs of tomatoes inside.” Still, Pooja persisted because of her dedication to her friendship with Shanti.
4. Years Later
Pooja and Shanti have remained friends for six years now. Pooja is now 12-years-old and still remembers all of her times spent with all of the elephants and especially with Shanti.
3. Year After Year
Every year, Pooja insists on visiting Shanti at the temple. Every time they have to say goodbye again, it breaks both of their hearts. You can hear Shanti’s separation pains as she cries all night when Pooja has to leave again.
2. Strong Bond
The strong bond shared between Pooja and Shanti inspired both of her parents to write a book. “Pooja, the Elephant Girl” was published in 2006 and documents the details of Pooja and Shanti’s unique friendship and bond.
1. Enduring Friendship
Although Pooja spends half of her time in Germany, she quite prefers India for many reasons. The biggest being Shanti. “I prefer studying in India than in Germany. I’ve got enough friends in Goa and, of course, Shanthi here,” Pooja says.