With respect for all life a central theme in Hindusim, the cow has achieved a special status in Indian society. The beginnings of this practice is not clear but generally, with cows providing milk that nurtures, they are known as “the mother of civilization.”
Even in days when sacrifices to the gods included oxen and bulls, lactating cows were always protected. Now, the role of the cow providing, milk, butter and dung for fires continues to maintain the taboo of harming the animals. Arvind described how the cow patties are collected early each morning and combined with straw to be shaped for fuel. We saw stacks drying as we drove from Agra to Jaipur.
Cows that wander in large cities are typically past the ability to give milk and have been abandoned. They spread trash by foraging for food
and cause significant snarls with traffic.
Efforts are being made to move stray cows from the streets of Delhi into more suburban or rural locations, but their presence was almost everywhere on our trip.