Oh to be a cow in India!
When someone asked our guide why cows are considered holy in India, he proceeded to give us this little explanation. Whilst the majority thought it was a load of rubbish, I thought it was really quite a logical story so I thought I'd share it. (My mum did predict I'd return to my infamous 'nun phase' on this trip, and this are only going to get more spiritual. . .)
In India, the cow is seen as a mother - hence its holy status. This is an image cultivated - by what I thought fairly reasonable - comparisons between cows and human women. Allow me to explain (because that sentence alone sounds very odd).
- Cows produce milk. This milk plays an important role in Indian cuisine. Not only can it be used to make cheese (and what is a life without cheese?!) but also clarified butter - which I believe we call ghee - which helps to lubricate the joints.
- Cow milk can substitute human milk. If a mother is unable to produce milk for her baby, she will often give the child cows milk. The cow is essentially able to provide the same nutrients as a human mother would, and thus should be treated accordingly.
- A cow's gestational period is also 39 weeks. The final comparison (that I can remember) is that both cows and humans are pregnant for the same amount of time. Now if that fact isn't enough to convince you of a cow's holy, motherly status in society I don't know what is.
In all seriousness, I think this is a pretty cute explanation and I predict I'll be a fully blown nun in about a week.