The Sacred Cows of India

Gentle Giant and Mother to All

Cows have been a fixture in India’s long history. During the Vedic period (1500-500 BCE) in Northern India, the time when the oldest scriptures of Hinduism (Vedas) were composed, the pastoral people then relied on cows for many needs. Cow milk was used for food, cow dung as soil fertilizer and fuel, and together with cow urine were considered also as disinfectants.

According to Hindu scriptures, cow’s milk is considered one of the highest forms of food, called Satvic, with great calming effect and medicinal value. Ghee or clarified butter, which is a milk product from cows, was used in fire worship, one of the highest forms of Hindu worship.

Perhaps ancient Indians ate cow’s meat before when they were first wanderers on the wide grasslands. However, when they settled along the Ganges river and their population started to balloon, they began to suffer from polluted water. They discovered that sickness and death claimed their numbers from contaminated water from their slaughterhouses and their leather industry. Taboos materialized then, otherwise believing that it was unfortunate or bad luck to kill cows. Following that, even the sacrifice of cows to deities for religious purposes was stopped.

The giant, gentle animal stood for all the goodness of the Hindu religion. Its calm and non-threatening nature is said to represent Dharma, the principle of cosmic order. Though Hindus do not worship cows, they are held in high esteem, they are respected or at least tolerated. Some of India’s goddesses take the form of a cow. You see cows undisturbed roaming the streets of India, being thrown vegetables to eat by street vendors.

There are also many institutions in India that take care of old and infirm cows. During festivals, they are beautified and garlanded and given special feedings, or given as gifts. The bond between a cow and its calf is also appreciated and revered; she is honored for her maternal and caretaker image.

Hence, slaughtering cows for their meat or consuming beef is considered sacrilegious for Hindus. Selling beef is banned in many Indian cities, and few Hindus would be ready to even taste cattle meat, for sociocultural reasons.

No-Beef Delicacies in Bellevue

Over at Spice Route, enjoy Southern Indian selections. We serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian, gluten-friendly, spicy and no-spice dishes for your complete dining experience. Certainly explore all our healthy, non-beef offerings.We’re one of the region’s best Indian eating destinations.