Around the World

In India cows are so special that there is even a cow holiday.

Did you know that India has a third of all the world’s cows?

People in India believe cows are like a mother to the earth and as such, most Indian people do not eat beef and cows may roam freely about the towns and countryside. In fact, if they happen to cause a traffic jam, instead of honking loud car horns to scare them off, drivers step out of their cars and gently encourage the cows to move aside!

Most of India’s population practice Hinduism. Hindus believe that cows should be protected because they have served us humankind for thousands of years and helped us to settle and farm. All of the things cows produce: milk, curd, butter — even their pee and dung are useful to us for either food, farming or Hindu worship, yet the humble cow asks for nothing back.

Why the cow and not another animal?

As well as the cow’s usefulness, cows also became so well loved for some other reasons. It became apparent in days gone by, that cows were actually pretty big and pretty expensive to kill for food or sacrifice and to do this of course, meant cutting off a regular supply of milk and so on. Another important reason is that the Hindu God, Shiva is often painted riding a large, white bull named Nandi. Furthermore, some thousands of years ago, cows became the very best gift someone could give to their Brahmin (high priest), which led Hindus to believe that to kill a cow was like killing their priest.

A holiday for cows!
Cows are so special that every year, India holds a cow holiday! On this day, called Gopastami, cows are washed and decorated and cows and cow herders are celebrated everywhere. The festival dates back to the time when the father of Lord Krishna (a Hindu deity), first trusted him to take care of his very own cows.