Feature Story

Desi Cow - Or - how to spell 'Indian street'

A cow at the cownter - Une vache à la cownter
India bulls - Horns & Bells
A Desi Cow, गाय, at a market store dukhan, Sindhudurg, Konkan, Maharashtra, India
The commons
"Smells Familiar..."
Holy cow, Manali, India -  आश्रम गाय, मनाली, भारत
Cow recycling a pile of leftovers. The traditional answer to garbage disposal
Cow dung is no bullshit
Mahindra bull watched by Kollywood couple - Tractor in Kallakurichi Tamil Nadu, India
Milky Way

March 2007 – Maharashtra: A herd of cows start galloping frantically as a summer camp's gliding parachute casts a moving shade on their grazing field. They never see anything bigger the a bird in this rural area.

Cow insurance: My friend, an investigator for a local insurance company, often investigates the death of clients' domestic cows. Because of the sacred place cow has in Hindi religion, very few of the cases are poisoning fraud attempts. An annual cow policy costs around Rs. 300 (depending on the cows purchase price) and in case of death the owner receives a prorated compensation based on cows current value.

Since my arrival to Tamil Nadu state I noticed cows being tied short and not freely roaming the streets. My friend says northern Indians give more respect to cows. In Tamilnadu, he explains, Muslim fill the gap of slaughterers and butchers, while some Hindu purchase and eat the beef. The cost of 1 kg. lamb's meat is Rs. 200-300 while beef costs half. Chicken goes for Rs. 120

May – 2007 - Gujarat : A mad cow jumps a 3 feet high and wide road fence in an amok run on a collision course with me, sitting behind Ibrahim on a motorcycle stuck behind a truck. Later Ibrahim told me her calf was just slaughtered and that's how she reacted.

Space line break

Rajasthan, Jodhpur, October 2007 : walking a narrow old city alley, a cow approaches me head-on. At the last second, as there's no hint for it diverting it's path, I step aside but skid and fall. Quickly crawling away I notice it was a cow dung pile I tripped over. Later someone mentioned my red fleece coat as the reason for the primal attraction.

October 2007 – Rajasthan: I hold a day-old calf on my arms, happy and nurtured. The next day the calf, which had his broken leg cast in plaster, died.

I meet Dr. Prem, a retired government cow veterinarian-cum-lodge-owner who tells me how an orphan calf gets an adopting mother by staging a birth: A ball is being put into the cows womb the she is 'labored'. The ball smeared over the orphan calf makes her believe it is her own son.

January 2008 – Kerala, Cow dung flattened and put to dry on a fence is used as fuel fed into cooking stoves. Fresh dung is also used to plaster walls and floors. It seals the porous and erosive mud-built houses.

January 2011 – Maharashtra: Waiting for my Thali dish at a local Dhaba (dinner), a cow steps in and waits to be served at the counter. This is a daily begging practice for cows, visiting local homes and businesses. Keeping the first made Chappati bread as offerings to a cows is a Hindu tradition.

On the next day, as I was shopping at my Muslim friend's vegetable shop, a cow stopped by for a bite from the selection of vegetables nicely presented in baskets. Every shop keeper has a thin long twig to scare away cows in a respectful manner. Another practice is spraying it with a handful of water.

February 2011 - Cows are great recyclers. Natural and non pollutant. They eat anything from flowers thrown away after temple and family functions, grass brooms, straw made rugs and mattresses, kitchen prepping veg and fruit peels (the dogs will have the leftovers, the pigs will have what the dogs won't) and Vegetable market waste. They even eat newspaper, cardboard and packaged food cartons, Although these may contain some chemicals.

Despite the unsupervised diet, these cows are healthy as they get to roam freely all day and choose their food. They merge into human activity and blend in their peaceful vibe. It's hard to tell who started Indian shanti culture: Humans or Cows

Each cow has a home and gets milked twice a day, morning and evening. Milking is done by hand. Right after the milk is carried in small jugs and sold to the neighborhood milk shop. This milk may be sold to packaging companies for distribution through grocery shops. Motorcycle ridden milkmen, with many milk cases, will deliver fresh, unpasteurized milk to the home of anyone who hasn't a cow.

April 2011 – Tamil Nadu. Sitting under coconut leaf village shade on a hot summer noon, a calf decides to give me a full body licking massage (well... whatever isn't covered by my shorts and T shirt). Invigorating and sometime tickling.

May 2011: Cooking gas, an LPG no-cost substitute, is traditionally produced in farmers' homes by fermenting cow dung in sealed tanks. Cow dung is mixed with water and fed into a tank for 5 days. A tank-top pipe leads the biomass gas to the house kitchen. Indian name it Gobar gas. It was much more popular in earlier days. These days, as the west gets interested in natural living, many Indian are actually in pursuit of the American dream and trade these ecological energy micro plants for commercially distributed packaged gas.

When a cow gives birth, the placenta is wrapped and tied to a Banyan tree air-root. By Hindu belief, if it's just tossed away and a dog gets it, the wellness of the cow and calf are compromised. This custom makes road side Banyan trees look like colorful gift-loaded Christmas trees.

Being first class citizens cow can go anywhere, and they do. I saw cows descend 45 degree slopes or a cow swimming across the wide Gad river (Watch this video)


For more on My India documentary: My India: Where every village is home - Experience !



Desi = Local (Indian...)


Cattle In Religion


Hindu philosophical concepts

Indian culture

Animal worship

Animals in religion

[[ar:بقرة مقدسة]]

[[de:Heilige Kuh]]

[[eo:Sankta bovino]]

[[fr:Vache sacrée]]

[[he:פרה קדושה]]

[[ka:წმინდა ძროხა]]


[[pl:Święta krowa]]

[[pt:Vaca sagrada]]

[[ru:Священная корова]]

[[simple:Sacred cow]]

[[fi:Pyhä lehmä]]

[[sv:Helig ko]]

VOTE: Do you like this story?

Tell a friend about this story!

Tell a friend about this story!

  1. or

Hi there!

thought you might like this story!


—The JPG team

No responses

Want to leave a comment? Log in or sign up!