Will I be beaten, if I hit a cow on Indian streets?
Confronting The Cow Conundrum
Ever found yourself strolling down a bustling alley in India, absorbed in the dazzling colors, the delightful aroma of street food, and the ever-present clamor, only to suddenly find your path obstructed by a sincere, placid cow? The cow, seemingly unbothered by the chaotic dynamics of the city, merrily chews away at its cud while you stand there debating your next course of action. You think to yourself, "Should I or should I not give this enormous creature a slight nudge?" In my case, the cow definitely ended up looking way more prepared for a conflict than I felt.
The Sacred Cow Context
Let's sidetrack for a moment, right back into my living room where my poodle Coco and parrot Rumi often engage in their own non-violent confrontations. Coco, infinitely more mobile, always refrains from using force. Simultaneously, Rumi, safely perched on his cage, finds solace in hurling a barrage of squawks and curses in Coco’s general direction. But why does Coco keep his calm, you might ask? Because years of coexistence have created a mutual respect, an unspoken agreement of sorts. This respect and understanding is exactly what cows command in India. And more so, because they are considered sacred in the Hindu tradition, which the majority of Indians follow.
Gaumata: The Holy Cow
You see, in India, the cow is often reverently referred to as 'Gaumata,' wherein 'Gau' means cow and 'mata' means mother. The cow, in Hindu scripture, is a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance, selfless giving and a full earthy life. Growing up, my grandmother used to say, "To hurt a cow would mean bringing a curse upon yourself". As a child, in awe of thunderous monsoons, such curses seemed like an attractive premise for future natural disasters.
The Cow and The Law
Okay, maybe you're thinking 'mythic curses, yeah right', but let's get to the real deal - would you really get beaten up if you hit a cow on Indian streets? Well, remember, India is a diverse mosaic where the theory of 'unity in diversity' is in perpetual play. So, while not everyone shares the same reverence for the cow, it's safe to say that they still respect an age-old tradition. But let's address the elephant, well, cow in the room - is there a law against hitting a cow in India?
Protection of Animals in India
Well, as a resident of the land that is home to one of the oldest civilizations, let me tell you that India has stringent animal rights laws. Under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, hitting or causing harm to any animal is a punishable offence. Worse still, a cow? That's like an open invitation for Farmer Brown and his pitchfork, and possibly the entire town.
A Real-Life Story, A Near Miss
Now, let me share a little anecdote from when I visited Jaipur, popularly known as the 'Pink City.' The old city lanes are narrow, with shops on either side and usually, a cow or two (or a dozen) reclining in the nooks. On this particular day, a young bull charged at a motorcyclist who retaliated by hitting it with a stick. Soon, the mob gathered. It did not get physical but the heated arguments and the general fervor of the situation told me one thing - peace was a much better option.
Gandhian Approach: Non-Violence Is The Key
The world knows and respects Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian leader who championed the cause of non-violence. If a cow blocks your way in India, channel your inner Gandhi! Be patient, divert your path if you need to, or simply wait. The cow will eventually meander to munch some greenery elsewhere. Always remember, when in doubt, Gandhian's ideology of non-violence can save you from potential trouble!
Handling Cows Off the Streets
So now you know why bumping into cows on Indian streets is almost as common as digging into a plate of spicy, tangy 'pani puri.' It's part of the culture, the diversity that makes India the fascinating enigma it is to foreigners. Treat the cow with respect just like you would to any being. Keep it non-violent, keep it respectful.
What I Have Learnt
Every interaction with different cultures presents a learning opportunity. My encounter with the cow on the Indian street was a vivid reminder of the respect for life in all forms, the acceptance of diversity, and patience. A lesson well learned, I reckon. In the end, I can assure you, hitting cows or any animal, for that matter, on Indian streets or anywhere else will not help your cause. Instead, embrace the moment as a cultural experience, decode the exudes of the land, and navigate your path peacefully. After all, as the old saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". With respect to India, we can conveniently replace the gladiatorial symbolism with heartwarming hospitality and, yes, cows.