Posted by: adventuressetravels | August 3, 2012

Divine Bovines

“Cows like our mothers – they give us milk, they help us in the fields to grow food as our friends, the pull our carts and help us with all types of work,” my host told me when I first got to India.

Seeing cows wandering the streets is so foreign and amazing for weeks I laughed every time I saw one.  After all, western culture today does not view cows as anything like holy. Calling a woman a cow is anything but flattering.  But when I thought about it, the roots of Western culture used to have a respect for cows.  These animals were actually considered sacred in both Roman and Greek mythology.  Hera, the Greek goddess of women and marriage was in fact referred to as cow-eyed Hera.  Indeed to call someone cow-eyed was high praise.

Though it is a common misconception that cows are worshiped by the Hindu religion, though they are considered holy, they are not worshiped as gods.  And though it is against the Hindu religion to eat them, by no means do the cows themselves live in the lap of luxury or given the respectful treatment one might expect for holy creature.  Far from it.

Cows have been given the run of the country.  Because of this India is filled with “stray” cows and these poor animals are forced to fend for themselves.  They eat the garbage and often are so gaunt each of their ribs is a well-defined ridge running the length of its stomach.  More than just the “stray” cows wandering the streets, often Indian families are too poor to feed their cows and they set the animals free to find their dinner on their own.

Seeing these cows, their noses buried in garbage I couldn’t help but cringe at the thought of what milk from these animals must taste like.  An animal fed on refuse of all types couldn’t produce the most healthy or tasty milk.

Wandering in and out of traffic cannot be the nicest way for these divine bovines to spend their day.   The poor creatures have almost certainly never set hoof on a deep cushion of deep green grass or lay their holy heads on a bed of clover.  Even the home cows kept in cities have anything but a natural life.

The malnourished homeless cows cannot possibly have the population explosion that Indian people are facing, but to my Western eyes at least, it seems that stray cows are a problem in India.   Although something so foreign can be entertaining and amusing, the cows’ reality just seems sad.

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Responses

  1. Holy cow!


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