Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holy Cow Story # 1

There are many holy cows in India. In fact, all cows in India are holy according to the Hindu religion. Cows freely roam the streets and alleyways in most large cites. They stop traffic, stand oblivious to motor scooters and cars in the middle of thoroughfares, and pensively chew their cud on the side of the road. On busy corners villagers sell fresh green fodder, bought by believing Hindus who in turn offer it to the cows as a religious gesture. For some, it is a daily ritual.

The big bovines are considered sacred, and are attributed qualities such as matriarchal nurturing and abundance. Most of the free-roaming cows are stray, non-productive animals. They should be given a wide berth and caution should be exercised around them as they can get aggressive.

As I was preparing to leave my friend's home in Agra I noticed a big, creamy colored cow standing outside of the house. It was looking through the wrought iron gate into the courtyard. "She comes everyday," said Monica. "My mother used to feed her the first chapati of the day." Monica now carries on the tradition and offering. We walked outside and Monica grabbed a broom and shooed the cow away. Apparently the holy mother had already had her chapati that morning.

I said my goodbyes to this kind family who welcomed me to their home and went on to Khajuraho. I now have another, and perhaps even better reason to visit this city, home to the Taj Mahal.

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