Got Milk…or a Paper Bag, Tin Can or Old Newspaper?
December 4, 2010 • Spiritual Adventures
The Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Stacey Green
It’s been several weeks now since my return from Vedic Odyssey’s Spiritual Adventure to Nepal and India. During this time several people have asked me why the cow is considered holy in these parts of the world. I had no idea. So began my Google quest for knowledge on the subject. I thought the following summed it up nicely.
“In Hindu-majority countries like India and Nepal, bovine milk holds a key part of religious rituals. For some, it is customary to boil milk on a stove or even lead a cow through the house as part of a housewarming ceremony. In honor of their exalted status, cows often roam free, even along (and in) busy streets in major cities. In some places, it is considered good luck to give one a snack, or fruit before breakfast. In places where there is a ban on cow slaughter, a citizen can be sent to jail for killing or injuring a cow.”
“Cows often roam free”. Um, often? How about ALWAYS roam free? Cows have the run of the land from what I could see. Every mode of transportation yields to the cow. The bus, motor and auto rickshaw, van, motorbike, chicken, goat, stray dog and last but not least the human being, all make way for the Holy Cow! They roam into stores and across major highways (cows are considered to be the greatest traffic hazard in Delhi), lounging anywhere and everywhere. They seem to have no particular goals or aspirations and eat and drink whenever and whatever they please. They don’t answer to anyone and just like to hang out with their friends in the streets. No purpose in life other than to ‘just be’. They are a true example of living in the present.
I think I dated this guy in college.
They seem to exude a sense of royalty (or is it apathy?) and entitlement. They are well aware of their exalted status, you can see it in their eyes. If they were in New York City, I imagine they would roam around Central Park, the Plaza, the West Village, Barney’s and Bloomingdales. They would dine at Balthazar, catch all the latest shows on Broadway and get massages at the Four Seasons. They would have the Wall Street Journal delivered, but they wouldn’t read it.
“It is considered good luck to give one a snack” In India, the cows eat EVERYTHING! One does not have to search very far for an acceptable snack. One afternoon in Rishikesh, I decided to feed a local cow the remainder of my croissant from breakfast. He happily accepted each piece and then proceeded to give me a gentle nudge as if to say, “so….what else” (for some reason, I imagined him saying this in Woody Allen’s voice). Not believing that I had no more baked goods up my sleeve or in the bag he nudged me several more times. I figured the only way to convince him was to place the empty bag beside him on the street.
He polished off some leftover crumbs and examined the bag thoroughly. He then ate the bag. Might I add, with as much fervor as the croissant that once was inside.
I’ll let you know if this brings me good luck.
Not until you actually roam with these beings, as equals on the village streets does the place they hold in society become fathomable. In fact, even then, it is still quite surreal.
After hanging with my new friends out East (and I don’t mean the Hamptons) I feel less inclined to eat them. New York City is home to some of the best burger joints in the country, I know this from personal experience. However, for now and the foreseeable future, I will find something else to put on a bun with mustard, ketchup, a teeny tiny bit of mayo, raw onion, lettuce, tomato and a little hot sauce. I should hope they’d do the same, given the chance. I’m grateful not to have to find out!
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