Why the cow is sacred in India

In India, the cow is venerated as a source of food and a symbol of life, so it should not be killed. However, there are no rituals of adoration, nor special considerations and cares.

Day of the Cow is celebrated during the crescent moon of the month of November
Day of the Cow is celebrated during the crescent moon of the month of November
Image by Richi Choraria from Pixabay

In Hinduism, one of the oldest religions in the world, the Day of the Cow is celebrated during the crescent moon of the month of November (Karttika). It is known as the Gopastami festival, during which they are bathed and decorated in the temple, and offerings are given for their life to continue. It is the only day.

Formerly cattle sacrifices were made to the gods and their flesh was eaten; bulls were killed, but the cows that produced the milk did not touch each other. In religious texts, the cow is named Devi (the goddess) and Aditi (mother of the gods). That is why they are encouraged to practice vegetarianism.

This also has to do with economic issues, it is expensive to sacrifice cows for spiritual reasons, while a live cow produces milk and fuel, among other benefits. At present, Hindus do not eat meat and, in general, families have a dairy cow at home, to which they are accorded the same treatment as other members of the family.

RELIGIONS

Religion is a very important part in the Indian culture, in its traditions and its way of life, this despite the fact that its Constitution establishes that it is a secular State. Considered one of the most spiritual countries in the world, in the country live more of 10 active and powerful religions. 

Here are the main ones:

Hinduism

It is practiced by 82% of the Indian population, approximately one billion people. His followers consider it a "philosophy" or "lifestyle" rather than a religion since it has no founder, no "church" or centralized authority, no dogmas, beliefs or practices gathered in a single book. For Hinduism, the divine presence manifests itself in all things. Any object, any person, can be deified.

Islam

Some 200 million people in India, 14% of its inhabitants, are Muslims. It is a monotheistic religion based on the Koran, which contains the teachings given by Allah, the only God, to the prophet Muhammad. Promotes the profession of faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting in the months of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca. In addition, it highlights the abandonment of idolatry, which contrasts sharply with the colorful Hinduism.

Christianity

It is estimated that only 2.5% of the Indian population practices it (about 30 million people). Its practice is closely linked to the colonial past of the country and the government of the English, Portuguese and French at different times and regions. The majority of Indian Christians are Catholics (60%) and it is a much more widespread religion in the South than in other regions of the country.

Sikhism or Sikhism

There are some 20 million Sikhs in the country, representing 2% of the total population. They believe in a single god and in the teachings of their ten gurus, gathered in the sacred book. They are frontally opposed to the caste system and apply what is known as the 5 "k": kesh or uncut long hair; khanga, a wooden comb that you should always carry with you; Kara, a metal bracelet; Kacha or cotton underwear; Kirpan, a dagger that always accompanies them.

Buddhism

Practiced by some 10 million Indians, approximately 1% of the population. It is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as Buddha, and they do not believe in any god nor do they have dogmas. It encourages its followers to train and develop the mind to try to better understand the Universe or reality and to offer respect and love to all beings.

VEGETARIANISM

According to official figures, between 23% and 37% of the population of India follows a vegetarian diet. However, recent research by anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan and economist Suraj Jacob states that these numbers could be inflated by "cultural and political pressures."

According to the information presented by the BBC, people avoid saying they eat meat, especially beef, and prefer to say they are vegetarian. But there is evidence to show that some of the official data are underestimated "considerably" because beef is "in the midst of cultural struggles and group identity in India."

Taking all this into account, only 20% of Indians actually have a vegetable-based diet, which is much lower than suggested by stereotypes and claims. The reality is that millions of Indians, including the Dalits or "untouchables", Muslims and Christians, consume beef.

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