Yes, you can really meet cows on the streets of India, even in the capital. Yes, the cow is considered a sacred animal here. This is not a myth, but true.
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In the Vedas (the oldest Hindu scripture), the cow was associated with Aditi, the Mother of all Gods. Therefore, the Indians now call the cow their Mother.
People in India do not eat beef. In most states eating it is prohibited by law. And in those where it is not prohibited (for example, in some north-east regions of the country – where most people are not Hindus, but Buddhists), the meat of bulls and buffaloes is being consumed rather than a cow’s meat. By the way, what is remarkable, India is a major supplier of beef abroad – but this also applies more to bull’s and buffalo’s meat.
Indians who keep their own cows at homes or have their own farms (mainly in small towns and villages, although this is also possible in Delhi) keep them for milk, but not for meat. Most Indians are not vegans, as I already wrote in an article on vegetarianism (you can read it Here), and they usually don’t refuse to have milk. On the contrary, it is traditionally considered to be very beneficial for health, necessary for consumption every day. Although Indians do not usually drink a plain milk, but make different kind of drinks from it. Daily people here consume Chai (Indian Tea) which is based on milk (Indian Tea Recipe can be found Here), in winters they often drink milk with turmeric (I’ll write a recipe later), and inexpensive milk shakes are constantly sold on the streets. Milk, by the way, comparing to relatively cheap prices for food in India, is not so cheap.
Why is it possible to meet cows on the streets? Because they are stray, homeless cows. Like stray dogs, they wander around the streets, sometimes alone, sometimes grouping together, eating anywhere (mostly in street garbages, choosing possible food from a pile of various wastes) and creating traffic. But no one will hit a cow by a car here for sure.
We accustomed to think of cows as aggressive, capable of attacking, but in India they don’t touch anyone. Calmly, slowly, not paying attention to anyone cows move along the streets. It often seems to me that they simply do not have enough energy due to malnutrition. Stray cows in India are not usual for us fat but most of them are thin, some of them are really skinny, with the bones all visible.
By the way, because of their calm behavior, a calm and modest person can be said to: “You’re like a cow” – and this is considered a compliment in India. If they want to abuse the girl as fat, she will be called a buffalo.
In India, there are also street wild pigs, but not everywhere. 6 years ago I lived in an area where they were many, but were no cows. And I was sorting out the garbage, giving food waste to stray pigs. Where I live now, they are only stray dogs around, and me and my husband are vegetarians so we can’t really feed them. But I have learned that there are shelters for cows in Delhi and every day a car drives through the streets, collecting food waste from everyone who wishes to feed the cows and help the ecology a little bit. I also tried to take part in this but my waste was not accepted because it had some onion peels. Of course, I was mistaken, but it still was incomprehensible to me why it is normal for cows to choose food from garbage with plastic and other inedible waste, but not with onion peels?