Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A whole lot of bull

Ray was away speaking at a conference a couple of months ago and while he was there someone told him about the problem excess bulls here in India. Who knew bulls could be such a problem? I have never really considered before and I found the whole thing quite amusing.

As you are probably aware cows are considered holy in India as it is believed to be a symbol of the earth - because it gives so much yet asks nothing in return.

The cow is revered as the source of food and symbol of life and should never be killed. Hindus do not worship the cow, however, and cows do not have especially charmed lives in India. I often see them eating garbage off the street and sifting through garbage at waste depots. In fact the other week I heard of a cow that died being cut open and inside was a multitude of undigested plastic bags that it had consumed while ferreting for food.

Anyway back to the story of cows and bulls…The five gifts of the cow are milk, curds, ghee butter, urine and dung. All of these are all used in hindu worship. The milk  nourishes children as they grow up, and cow dung is a major source of energy for households throughout India. Cow dung is sometimes among the materials used for a tilak- a ritual mark on the forehead. Most Indians do not share the western revulsion at cow excrement, but instead consider it a useful natural product.

So what about the bulls? Well they are not quite as revered as cows but they are still not to be killed (it is illegal to kill cows and bulls in all but two states in India) . The occasional bull is useful as a stud and others as beasts of burden; pulling carts and the like but mostly they are useless. So basically bulls are left to roam the streets. Ray was telling me that the people to whom the male calves are born try to dump them far from where they live but they always find there way home. The sight of homeless bulls is commonplace in Delhi, in fact when I drive Hunter to dance class at a nearby school twice a week there are two bulls that loiter in the traffic and I often have to navigate my way around them. They seem innocuous enough and I have never personally had and problems with cows or bulls even when having to walk past them in a confined area but I have heard that they can charge and trample.
I will end on an amusing note. I was shopping at a market in Old Delhi one day when I saw a cow in a shop. Usually when I see a cow entering a shop I see a shop owner shooing it out. However this particular cow was just hanging about. Then it lifted its tail and I saw a shop owner dive to put some paper on the floor where the poop would land. Not that is did much good as the cow was not likely to have a good diet in that part of town so green goop splattered down its legs and all over the floor. Good times! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow, what can i say? yet again my admiration for you all grows. Thank you for sharing you adventure with us. Lots of love
Antoinette xx