The ubiquitous cow – found in almost every nook and cranny in India – is one of the most common sights in the country. In fact, India is known to have 30 percent of the world’s population of cattle. This is partly because the cow is highly respected, even sacred.
Like stray cats and dogs in many other places, the cow is basically homeless. Yet, unlike in other countries, a cow will never be harmed. That’s because in India the cow is a great symbol of life, providing so much in the way of food and nourishment. Cow dung is also a major source of fuel for many Indians. And so, cows are protected.
Throughout the country, in every town, small or large, cows can be seen roaming the streets and grazing on roadside trash and veggies. Immune to vehicular traffic, these animals appear well at ease among cars, trucks, bikes and humans alike.
Despite the cow’s revered status, these animals don’t exactly live happy lives. They are alone, neglected and left to fend for themselves. It is said that Mahatma Gandhi actually became a vegetarian because he felt cows were vastly ill-treated.
So, if you happen to visit India, probably one of the first encounters will be of a cow – wandering, noshing, curiously minding its own business. Stop to take notice of how they navigate the streets, how they’re treated, how they’ve become an integral part of Indian life. Just don't get too cozy. They can and will charge if you get too close for comfort.