Walking with cows.
They’re curled up on main streets amongst haphazardly parked tuk tuks, motorcycles and cars; they’re meandering slowly up urban alleys in the centre of busy towns; they’re roaming the highways that stretch for miles. Within hours of arriving, we realise that to travel through India is to walk with cows.
In a country where most of the population are Hindu and vegetarian, animals enjoy a level of respect not often seen in the West. It’s a noteworthy characteristic for those of us who come from places where the only animals we tend to see on the streets are dogs on leads. We can’t help but squeal with glee every time we come within centimetres of these great beasts.
But the cow is not worshipped as a god as such, merely respected and revered as a creature that gives so much and so generously – from dairy products to crop fertilisers and even fuel – while asking for nothing in return. As we pass another of India’s blessed bovines, we ponder the words of the great Indian leader Mahatma Ghandi.
“One can measure the greatness of a nation and its moral progress by the way it treats its animals. Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world.”
We can’t help but feel our own perception of the animals changing.