By Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
This story begins with a mouse and an elephant. The mouse became the mount or Vahana of Lord Ganapathy.  Follow this story and see how the vahanas of the Hindu deities came together in a temple town.
The elephant, the Vahana of Indra, Lakshmi, Brihaspati...
The mouse is the Vahana of Ganesha.

A temple mouse issued a bold challenge to the mighty temple elephant. The mouse confidently declared, "I am not a house mouse, a church mouse, or a wild mouse, but a temple mouse. I have access to hidden corners of the temple that you have never seen. People bring me cheese to please me. I freely enter the sanctum sanctorum, where I receive the divine blessings of Devi at any time. The priests and the people adore me. Though I may be small in size, I possess abilities beyond your reach."

News of the temple mouse's audacious challenge spread like wildfire throughout the neighborhood and the forest. Excitement rippled through the animal kingdom, as the news reached even the wild elephants in the nearby woods. They eagerly awaited the spectacle of the mouse pitted against their domesticated elephant brethren.
Before the momentous competition, the mouse and the elephant paid homage to Devi and Ganesha, seeking their divine favor. However, the mouse remained tight-lipped about the nature, conditions, and prize of the challenge, adding an air of mystery and intrigue.
Dismissively, the elephant shrugged off the mouse's challenge, proclaiming, "I am not the least bit concerned about a tiny mouse challenging me." Word of this confident response reached all the domestic and feral animals, though they remained clueless about the specifics of the challenge.
A vast meadow near the temple, at the forest's edge, was chosen as the site for the competition. The elephants from the forest approached the temple elephant, expressing their humiliation and distress at the thought of a minuscule mouse challenging their mighty kin. Nevertheless, the temple elephant assured them of his ability to emerge victorious, even though only the mouse knew the true nature of the game.
The excitement was palpable as the giraffes, zebras, lions, foxes, birds, snakes, forest mice, town mice, and other denizens of the forest assembled in the meadow. The atmosphere crackled with anticipation as the umpire giraffe addressed the gathering, announcing, "Dear denizens of the forest and the temple town, we have gathered here to witness a competition between the temple mouse and the temple elephant. The event is a one-mile sprint, with a half-mile uphill and a half-mile downhill. If the mouse wins, it will ride the elephant. If the elephant wins, the mouse will become the elephant's lifelong servant."
A date was set, and animals from far and wide gathered to witness this unprecedented spectacle. Perched atop the giraffe's head, the guineapig blew the whistle, marking the start of the sprint. The mouse darted forward but soon slowed down due to the boggy and water-logged racetrack. In contrast, the elephant effortlessly navigated the sodden ground, causing the elephants to trumpet in delight while the disappointed mice squeaked in frustration.
Initially, it appeared that the elephant had taken the lead. However, the soggy patch on the racetrack gave way, causing the elephant to stumble and fall. Shrill cries emanated from the elephants, while the mice in the stands roared in triumph. Seizing the opportunity, the temple mouse sprinted as fast as it could, reaching the finish line and winning the race.
The umpire giraffe declared the temple mouse as the victor, announcing, "Dear denizens of the temple town and the forest, the winner is the temple mouse." The mice in the witness stands rose on their hind legs, roaring like lions in support of the victorious mouse, while the elephants emitted low groans, their heads hanging low with disappointment.
In a bid to preserve his dignity, the temple elephant stood in front of the cheering crowd, declaring, "I fell on purpose so that the temple mouse could win the race. I owed the mouse a debt of gratitude for its past assistance. I had suffered from an excruciating earache caused by impacted earwax, rendering me miserable. The dear temple mouse, with its nimble feet, removed the wax and brought me relief. I will never forget its kindness. This victory is my reward to the mouse."
Although initially met with skepticism, the temple mouse stepped forward, embracing the temple elephant's words and defending its companion's integrity. The mouse affirmed the truth of the elephant's story, solidifying the bond of trust between them.
Now, it was time to reveal the prize for the winner. The mouse leaped onto the elephant's tail, skillfully climbing its way up. It scurried across the elephant's back, playfully teasing its face and trunk before gracefully landing on the ground. Then, with swift agility, the mouse scaled the elephant's right leg and perched itself atop the majestic head.
The temple elephant, true to its word, fulfilled its promise. It took the mouse on a victory lap around the perimeter of the arena, showcasing their harmonious partnership. The elephants, dejected by their defeat, hung their heads low and grumbled, acknowledging the mouse's triumph.
Amidst the vibrant atmosphere of celebration, everyone bid farewell, returning to their respective homes with hearts filled with admiration for the temple mouse. They congratulated the mouse, recognizing that true greatness transcends mere size.
The tale of the temple mouse and the temple elephant echoed through the lands, inspiring generations to believe in the power of unity and the extraordinary capabilities that lie within every being. The temple became a place of reverence, not only for its deities but also for the enduring bond between the mouse and the elephant.
And as students faced examinations or competitions, they sought solace and guidance from the temple, offering prayers to Lord Ganesha and seeking the blessings of Ganesa and the temple elephant. Lord Ganesa removes obstacles in the way just like a mouse gnaws its way to the goal. They understood that faith, perseverance, and the support of unlikely allies could help overcome any obstacle.
In the annals of history, the story of the temple mouse and the temple elephant remained etched, reminding all who heard it that size is not a measure of one's worth. Rather, it is the depth of character, friendship, and mutual respect that truly matter.
And so, the legend continued to thrive, passed down from one generation to the next, weaving its way into the tapestry of Indian folklore. It served as a timeless reminder that within the hearts of the smallest creatures lie the courage and strength to accomplish great feats, forever inspiring those who dare to dream.

The Mouse, The Elephant and The Ants

The mouse is the Vahana of Lord Ganesha, who has the elephant 's head.

The temple elephant and the temple mouse were friends who looked out for each other, despite their extreme difference in size. The elephant once recalled how the mouse had gnawed on the impacted wax in its ear, providing relief from an earache.

During temple processions along the city streets, when the elephant carried the temple deities, the mouse secretly hitched a ride without the knowledge of the temple officials and priests.

The elephant would hide a portion of its food as a reserve, ensuring that its friend, the mouse, could eat whenever it wanted.

One day, the mahout took the elephant to the lake for a bath and a scrub. The elephant eagerly sucked up the water and sprayed it all over its body. After the refreshing bath, the mahout diligently scrubbed the elephant clean.

Once the bath was complete, the elephant and the mahout set off on their journey back to the temple. The elephant  unintentionally stepped on an ant mound, killing numerous ants. Infuriated, the ants climbed onto the trunk and up into the nostrils, biting the inside. There were hundreds of ants inside the elephant's trunk and blowing them off proved futile. Each ant anchored itself with its jaws and injected painful formic acid into the trunk's nares. It was reminiscent of ants crawling up one's nose. The elephant cried out, and without delay, the mouse sprang into action.

Climbing up the passageways of the trunk, the mouse bit each ant, killing them and devouring as many as possible. The elephant blew off the dead ants, causing them to lose their grip on its nares.

Grateful for the mouse's timely help, the elephant expressed its gratitude. No one could have rescued it as effectively as the mouse did. Together, the elephant and the mouse happily returned to the temple.

The Mouse, the Elephant and the Cat
The cat is the vahana of goddess Shashthi.

A cat had taken up residence in the temple, staying close to the perimeter wall. The devotees who visited the temple regularly fed the cat, which prevented it from hunting mice.
One day, as the temple elephant passed by, the cat caught the scent of a mouse. It searched and searched, looking all around until it found the mouse clinging to the underbelly of the elephant.
As if assisting the elephant, the cat addressed the elephant, saying, "Hey big guy, did you know there's a mouse hanging upside down on your underbelly? Should I catch it, free you from this pest, and make a meal out of it for myself?" The elephant swung its trunk, lightly grazed the cat's back, and firmly held it at the tip of its trunk, saying, "Listen, kitty! That's not the case. You should know the mouse is my friend. Don't even think about harming my friend. Do you understand? Now go away."
The cat swiftly departed, and the mouse, having overheard the conversation, thanked the elephant for its timely advice, saving it from becoming the cat's lunch.
The summer passed uneventfully, with little happening. However, the cat grew hungry as the number of devotees visiting the temple dwindled due to the raging Covid-19 epidemic. The rats and mice had ventured off into the forest in search of food. The cat approached the elephant and said, "I'm hungry. Hand over the mouse." The elephant instructed the cat to wait and retrieved some food from the reserve it had squirrelled away for the mouse. The cat ate the food and asked the elephant, "What about tomorrow and the day after?"
The elephant warned the cat, "No, you will not eat my friend, the mouse."
Enraged, the cat threw a temper tantrum and bit the elephant's right front leg. In order to teach the cat a lesson, the elephant picked it up by its trunk and flung it forcefully. The cat was airborne for a while before landing on a cotton bale. Luckily, it wasn't a rock. The cat remained absent from the temple's perimeter wall for a long time.
When the Covid-19 epidemic subsided, people returned to the temple, and the cat reappeared. It had changed its mind about having the temple mouse for supper. The cat approached the elephant and said, "I want to be friends with both you and the mouse. I won't eat your friend." The elephant responded, "I will keep an eye on you and provide food from my reserve every day. If you behave, I will consider you a friend. You must stay 20 feet away from me and the mouse. As a sign of our friendship, you will bring a wildflower to me and the mouse every day."
From that day forward, the cat brought wildflowers to the elephant and the mouse, and in return, the cat received food from the elephant. People noticed the cat carrying wildflowers in its mouth and believed it was a devotee of the deity, offering flowers. The devotees started feeding the cat as well.
One day, the elephant developed stomach upset and diarrhea. The cat brought some herbs from the nearby forest and gave them to the elephant. Miraculously, the diarrhea stopped after a single dose of the herbs.
This incident proved that the cat had indeed become a friend of the elephant. However, the proof of the cat's friendship with the mouse was yet to come.
One day, during a procession, the deity rode on the back of the elephant with the mouse clinging to its underbelly. The mouse fell asleep and tumbled down, nearly getting trampled by the elephant and the milling crowd. The cat sprang into action, urging the mouse to jump onto its back. The mouse quickly hopped onto the cat's back, and together they escaped the danger. Witnessing this remarkable sight, the crowd marveled at the grace of the deity, bowing their heads in wonder and chanting praises.
When the elephant returned to the temple, it approached the cat and spoke with warmth, "From this day forth, I accept you as our friend. The mouse, you, and I are now friends, bound by a special bond."
With those words, the cat felt a sense of belonging and joy. The trio—elephant, cat, and mouse—became inseparable friends, bringing joy to the temple and its devotees. The cat continued to bring wildflowers daily as a symbol of their friendship, while the elephant protected them both and ensured their well-being.
The tale of their extraordinary friendship spread far and wide, inspiring people with its message of unity and compassion. The cat, once seen as a mere temple visitor, was now regarded as a beloved companion and an embodiment of devotion.
In the years that followed, the temple thrived, and the friendship between the elephant, cat, and mouse remained unbreakable. They became a symbol of harmony, teaching everyone the value of kindness and the power of friendship.
And so, the temple became not only a place of worship but also a sanctuary for friendship and love, where the bonds between different beings transcended expectations and created a tapestry of compassion that touched the hearts of all who visited.
The Mouse, The Elephant, The Cat and the Eagle
The eagle (Garuda) is the Vahana of Vishnu.

The elephant, the mouse, and the cat were living happily in the temple premises. One day, an eagle was flying over the temple and began circling. The mouse was in the temple garden, running around flowering plants, while the cat was not far off. The elephant was nearby, feeding on grass.

The eagle made a few swoops to catch either the cat or the mouse. It fixed its eyes on the cat and dove to catch it with its talons. However, the alert elephant scooped up the cat and threw it into the tool shed. In the rescue of the cat, the eagle was slightly injured and lay on the ground.

Angry at the elephant, the eagle said, "Are you crazy? Let me get the cat. I have to feed my hungry chicks. Without the meat, they will die."

The elephant trumpeted, and the mahout came running. He saw the injured eagle and offered a prayer to God Venkateshwara. Then, he took the eagle to the veterinarian, who declared it to be hale and healthy. The mahout brought the eagle back to the temple premises and left it where he found it.

The eagle thanked the elephant for calling for help and said, "What now? My chicks are hungry. How am I going to feed them?" The elephant replied, "Dear Eagle, there are a bunch of road kills on the highway nearby. You can find rabbits, birds, and other animals to feed your chicks. Nearby, there is a lake full of fish. Please remember that the cat and the mouse in the temple are my friends and under my protection. Please do not harm them."

The eagle made it a point to fly over the elephant when the latter carried the deity on its back during the street procession. When people saw the eagle flying over the procession, they raised their hands in prayer, believing the bird to be Garuda himself, the bird-transport of Lord Vishnu.

Thus, the circle of friends was enlarging: the elephant, the mouse, the cat, and the eagle.
Elephant is the vahana of lakshmi. Garuda, the Vahana of Vishnu, has the eagle as the prepresentative. The elephant represents Lord Ganesa. The mouse is the vahana of Lord Ganes.  The cat is the vahana of Shashthi.  Shashthi, in Hinduism, is the goddess of vegetation, reproduction, and infant welfare. Shashthi is especially venerated in eastern India, largely in Bengal and Odisha.
The owl joins the foursome.
The owl is the Vahana of Lakshmi.

The four animals lived happily together in the temple compound, with the elephant taking care of their welfare, resolving disputes, and providing sustenance. One day, while the mouse was strolling in the flower garden, an owl swooped down, snatched the mouse, and carried it away. The mouse let out a loud cry, which was heard by both the elephant and the eagle. Acting on instinct, the eagle immediately took off after the owl, engaging it in an aerial fight and striking it with its wings. Unable to withstand the eagle's assault, the owl dropped the mouse from its talons. The eagle swiftly descended, delicately catching the mouse with its talons, and brought it back to the temple premises. All the animals cheered the eagle for its audacious and successful rescue mission. However, the owl returned to claim its stolen prize and started harassing the eagle.

The elephant intervened and advised the owl to go fishing in the nearby lake instead of bothering any of the animals in the temple compound. It was revealed that the owl had been the vahana of goddess Lakshmi. Since then, the owl developed a habit of dropping fish for the eagle, thus forming a friendship between them. The eagle eventually moved into the temple compound, which extended widely with trees, bushes, small hills, and much more.
The antelope savors the rose petals in the temple garden.
The antelope is the Vahana of Chandra the Moon god and Vayu, the wind god).

In the nearby forest, there were herds of antelopes, and occasionally, one or two would wander into the temple premises to graze on the grass. One day, a young antelope was grazing near the garden and then ventured into the garden, indulging in the delicious rose petals. It finished devouring petals from a quarter of the plants, leaving those bushes visibly devoid of flowers. The observant cat spotted this and swiftly ran to the elephant, meowing urgently. It then returned to the garden and positioned itself beside the deflowered bush and the antelope, which was busy snacking on petals.

Approaching with care so as not to startle the antelope, the elephant gently approached it. The elephant advised the antelope against eating the roses directly from the bush but instead suggested that it visit the used flower dump at the back of the temple a few times a day. There, it could freely enjoy all the flowers it desired. Taking the hint, the antelope became a regular visitor to the temple, making its daily stop to savor the rose petals.

It's worth noting that the antelope is the vahana of Chandra (the Moon god) and Vayu (the wind god).
A military dog proves its worth to the temple and joins the elephant and his friends.
The dog is the Vahana of Lord Bhairava.

A male dog happened to wander into the temple premises along with the devotees. This dog had been outside the compound wall, eating from the hands of children and receiving handouts from dog-loving devotees who visited the temple. It wore a collar and a license tag around its neck, indicating that it belonged to a household.

Upon its entry into the temple compound, the temple attendants took the dog to a veterinarian, who discovered that the dog, named Dingo, belonged to an Australian couple and had run away from home. There was a police report filed regarding its disappearance. Despite living off the food offered by the devotees and constantly managing to elude capture, the temple officials managed to trace the dog's owners to a nearby town. Eventually, the owners, albeit reluctantly, moved back to Australia, having to give up on finding their runaway dog.

Given that Dingo was a domesticated and well-behaved dog, one of the affluent devotees, who was known to the temple officials, decided to adopt the dog and took it away to a distant city. It didn't take long for the dog to find its way back to the temple, mingling with both children and adults who frequented the temple. It seemed as though the dog believed it truly belonged there.

Consequently, the dog became a part of the temple's property, and the officials took responsibility for its care, providing it with food and allowing it to roam freely outside the temple. The dog developed a friendship with the elephant, as their living quarters were situated near the temple wall. As a result, the dog often stayed close to the elephant, while the attendants brought grass and leaves for the elephant and dog food for the dog.

It's worth noting that the dog serves as the Vahana (vehicle) of God Bhairava, who safeguards his devotees from formidable enemies, greed, lust, and anger. Enjoying the company of its fellow animal friends, the dog also took on the role of a guard dog, making regular rounds around the temple walls. There was an incident where the dog witnessed a lightning strike hitting the wooden temple car used for deity processions, causing a fire to break out. The dog immediately ran to its owner, a temple official, who followed the dog's lead, observed the fire, and promptly contacted the fire department to extinguish it. From that point forward, the dog was granted the freedom to roam inside the temple as it pleased.

On another occasion, during an outing with its new owner near a bus stop, the dog unexpectedly leaped out of the car and rushed toward a heap of unknown material, remaining motionless beside it. Concerned, the owner contacted the police, only to discover that the heap was filled with combustible substances stolen from a nearby military cantonment munition depot. Further investigation revealed that the dog had previously served in the military and was subsequently adopted by the Australian couple upon its retirement.

With a fondness for its four animal companions, the dog continued to stay in close proximity to them within the temple grounds.

The bull (Vahana of Siva) joins the temple menagerie.
The elephant was carrying the processional deity of the temple through the streets of the temple town. Of course, the mouse was hitching a ride, clinging to the underbelly of the elephant. It became customary for the elephant's friends to join the procession as well. The cat, the Vahana of the goddess Shashti, and the dog, the Vahana of Lord Bhairava, got along very well. The elephant told them that every god or goddess in the Hindu pantheon is an aspect of Parabrahman.
As the procession wound its way through the town, the eagle (Garuda), the Vahana of Vishnu, and the owl, the Vahana of Lakshmi, flew overhead, keeping a watchful eye on the people and the procession. It was like aerial surveillance. Yes, indeed. The flying pair of birds noticed a bull escaping from its herd and heading towards the procession.
The owl and the eagle raised an alarm and notified the elephant of the bull's approach. The elephant stopped, and the people wondered why. Then they saw the bull approaching them. The cat, the dog, and the antelope rushed towards the bull, which appeared tame and peaceful. They questioned its purpose and brought the bull to the elephant. The bull told the elephant, "I no longer wish to be part of the herd and want to join you and your friends."
The people could not believe that the bull was so docile, as lone bulls were always aggressive. It appeared that the bull, being the Vahana of Lord Siva, wanted to join the animals in the service of the temple. The elephant consulted the group and, with their approval, took the bull under its wing. At the end of the procession, the priests and temple officials welcomed the bull as a member of the temple menagerie. The bull found its quarters near the elephant's. Devotees visiting the temple put their children on the tame bull and took pictures. It was reminiscent of Siva riding the bull named Nandi. The temple officials placed a Hundi, a collection box, to receive cash from the devotees. Over time, the money collected in the Hundi was more than enough to feed and maintain the animals.

The cow named Kamadhenu moves into the temple.
The temple marked a day in the year for the celebration of animals as the Vahanas of the deities. It was a hit among the devotees, especially the children.
In the town, a wayward cow roamed the streets. No one claimed it. It went to a house daily and waited at the door. The owner of the house, his wife, and children fed the cow daily and let it drink water from a bucket. He never shooed off the cow. He was doing poorly in business. Luckily, his business picked up and was doing well since he started feeding the cow.
The cow used to go from house to house for a while, and the owners of the houses became prosperous. Nobody made a connection between feeding the cow and their prosperity. After a while, the cow went to the temple and stayed there for a while, eating discarded plantain leaves and other refuse.
The dog noticed the cow and reported the matter to the elephant. People began talking about the cow and how people became prosperous after feeding it. The word reached the temple officials. They decided to adopt the cow and named it Kamadhenu or Surabhi. The devotees brought Tulsi (Holy Basil Leaves) and greens and fed them to the cow, hoping they would succeed in business. The cow mooed after feeding on the b. The devotees assumed that the mooing was a blessing from Kamadhenu.
The temple officials were enthralled to notice that collections in the Hundi went up severalfold since the arrival of Kamadhenu.
The elephant, the cat, and the others regularly paid visits and inquired how it was doing. The owl and the eagle had a special liking for Kamadhenu.
People could not believe that a stray cow brought prosperity to the town's merchants and the temple. The word spread that Kamadhenu was indeed a cow of plenty, and more people came to visit the cow and the temple.
An abandoned horse becomes the temple resident, attracting more devotees into the temple. The children worshipped the horse as Lord Hyagriva himself, seeking excellence in studies.
A man made a living by operating a horse-drawn carriage for hire. As he grew old, he could no longer continue his trade of transporting people with the carriage. Unfortunately, nobody was interested in buying the horse and the carriage, so he decided to abandon them. The horse wandered off and roamed through many towns and villages, eventually becoming a wild horse.

Finally, the horse arrived in a temple town and found a pasture to graze in the meadows. A temple official noticed the frail white horse and took a liking to it. The official brought the horse to the temple, where it was fed and nurtured, gradually transforming into a strong and healthy horse. The veterinarian examined the horse and declared it in good health. Other temple animals, including the elephant, also developed a fondness for the horse.

Meanwhile, a student who had been performing poorly in exams prayed to the horse, who represented the deity Hayagriva (known for his horse-like face or neck), an incarnation of Lord Vishnu associated with knowledge and wisdom. Miraculously, the student's exam scores improved, and he attributed his success to the horse. Children in the town started offering horse gram to the horse and prayed for better academic performance. Whenever the horse neighed, the children interpreted it as a blessing from Lord Hayagriva himself.

As the dog, cat, antelope, owl, eagle, mouse, cow, bull, and elephant passed by the horse in the temple, they were captivated by its striking whiteness. Over time, these animals became friends with the horse, and their unique bond grew stronger. The menagerie expanded in numbers. With the presence of the wish-fulfilling cow and the knowledge-bestowing horse, the temple's popularity soared, attracting devotees and children from far-off lands.

The animals decided to appoint the elephant as the president and the horse as the vice president. All agreed on this decision, delighted to have both the wish-fulfilling cow and the knowledge-conferring horse in their midst. The dog took the horse for daily exercise along the perimeter wall, forging a deep friendship. Notably, none of the animals in the menagerie were tethered to a post. The collections from the hundi, or donation box, increased significantly.

A peacock joins the menagerie. Peacock is the Vahana of Murugan, the son of Siva and the brother of Ganapathy, who rides the mouse.
The state Governor's bungalow was home to deer and peacocks, which were taken care of by the garden staff of the Governor's office. The Governor’s mansion was situated amidst a wild habitat, surrounded by birds and lakes. Among the peacocks, there was one that stood out as the most magnificent. However, this particular peacock grew unhappy living at the Governor's mansion and decided to embark on an unexpected adventure. It hitchhiked on a truck and eventually jumped off in a temple town, seemingly drawn by an unknown force towards the temple.

The presence of the peacock in their midst fascinated the devotees. They were especially fond of the majestic bird. The owl and the eagle, upon spotting the peacock in the neighborhood, promptly reported their sighting to the elephant and the horse. Upon hearing the news, the elephant and the horse were captivated and expressed their desire to bring the peacock into the menagerie.

The children among the devotees approached the peacock, but it quickly ran away from them. While escaping from the children, the peacock flew over the temple wall and landed on the bull, who served as Lord Siva's mount. The bull, who had never seen a peacock before, developed an affinity for the beautiful bird. The adult devotees discussed the peacock's possible significance, considering it as the Vahana (vehicle) of Murugan, the son of Siva, while Ganapathy, Siva's other son, had a mouse as his Vahana. The mouse cautiously approached the peacock and inquired about its well-being.

The peacock subsisted on grass and other green vegetables. The temple officials warmly welcomed the peacock and incorporated it into the menagerie. The presence of the peacock added vibrancy to the temple complex and it became an unlikely friend to all, particularly the bull and the mouse. Whenever the peacock spread its tail, displaying its iridescent colors and the eye-like patterns on its feathers, the children would enthusiastically clap their hands.
A fortune-telling parrot become the latest member of the temple menagerie. The parrot is the Vahana of Madurai Meenakshi.
A street fortune teller had an assortment of animals with him: a fortune-telling parrot, a performing monkey, a fighting mongoose, and a hissing snake. The man carried a pack of cards with messages written on them. He shuffled the cards, and once the patron paid the fee and patiently waited, the fortune-telling parrot would select a card from the pack. The man would then show the card to the eager patron and read the message aloud for everyone to hear, always bringing pleasant tidings to the recipient.

One day, the parrot pulled a card that foretold a happy message for a man, and then, to everyone's surprise, it announced its own freedom and flew away. Days after escaping from the fortune teller, the parrot landed on the wall of a temple and started speaking: "Does anyone care for fortune-telling?" Some performers swiftly clipped the parrot's wings to ensure it wouldn't fly away. People were astounded to hear a parrot talking and eventually deduced that it must have been a fortune-telling parrot that had escaped and found its freedom.

The bull, who had once been a fortune-telling bull himself, recognized the parrot as a fellow fortune teller and informed the elephant about the talking parrot. All the animals in the menagerie unanimously agreed to admit the talking parrot into their midst. The bird would then share with the people around it, "Fortune awaits you when you go home."

In the Madurai Meenakshi temple, the abode of Goddess Meenakshi, the wife of Lord Siva and sister of Lord Krishna, a parrot served as the Vahana (vehicle) for the goddess.
The temple appointed two men and two women to care for the menagerie. The hundi collection was more than enough to cover the expenses of the caretakers, animal feed, shed maintenance, and last but not least, veterinary care. Devotees paid for the construction of the animal stalls. Some devotees not only contributed to the construction of the stalls but also committed themselves to their lifelong maintenance.

The temple owns thousands of acres of sacred forest, ponds, and lakes surrounding the temple. The forest is abundant in various kinds of flora and fauna, all under the protection of the temple. There are officials in charge of the forest department. The animals in the forest roam freely without disturbance. The plants sprout, grow, bear fruit, and naturally decay. No logging is permitted.

The temple premises feature sacred trees, shrubs, and flowering plants that are appropriate for each deity. Balaji and Lakshmi prefer lotus blossoms and sacred basil (Tulasi plant). Siva prefers Vilva (Aegle marmelos).