In Nepal and India it is illegal to kill a cow. Famous for their holy status in Hinduism, the humble bovine has pride of place in the urban pecking order. The main man of Hinduism, Lord Krishna, moonlights as a cowherd (who frolicks with milk-maids) and the bull is the badass vehicle of Lord Shiva.
Travelling through these two predominately Hindu countries, one cannot help but notice the many cows chilling out in the middle of traffic, on people’s doorsteps and street corners that stink of urine. The flip side is the many steak houses (Nepal) and leather goods outlets (India). This raises some serious questions:
Who kills the cows?
Do people in the community look down upon you, if you make your rupees selling holy rump?
Who eats the steak?
It’s hard being one of life’s inquisitive types, so I did what any obnoxious tourist would do, I pestered the locals. This is what I found out:
Even though it is illegal to kill cows, there are Christian and Muslim slaughter houses that are able to get murder permits. If you own a steak restaurant, get non-Hindu’s to do your un-holy killing or import your dead cow.
In Pokhara, Nepal, we passed 5 steak restaurants on the main street. Generally it’s tourists who eat the meat and as long as you don’t do the killing within the community, the general consensus is that you wont be ostracized for running a Steak House.
Let me add here, that with power outages daily in Nepal, I believe that eating steak will drastically reduce your lifespan and probably give you parasites.
As we walked around the bazaars of India we passed numerous leather shops. How, I wondered, can a community be against eating a holy animal, only to wear it on their feet and use it to hold their rupees?
Turns out that although Hindu’s are against killing cows, they don’t object to camels or water buffalo (essentially furrier cows).
I purchased myself a camel handbag and every time I reach for my sunglasses I get a whiff of what Bear Grills must have smelt, that time he slept at Hotel de Camel Stomach.
The cows in India and Nepal take priority in the frenetic traffic hierarchy. Tuk-tuk, motorbike, buses, vans and tractors – all halt for the holy cow. If you kill one, it will cost you 10,000 rupees and 1-year in jail.
You have to wonder about the holy state of their stomachs though. Many city dwelling cows are strays, put out by their owners. Perhaps they don’t produce milk or offspring anymore, maybe they are too holier than thou. Whatever the reason, these cows live off scraps, the odd charity chapatti and forage in the trash for food.
This means they are underfed, ingest large amounts of plastic and probably have terrible gas.
There are a few charity animal hospitals who take the cows in, fix them up and let them back out onto the streets. But just like Lindsay Lohan, these cows will likely end up back in rehab.
Unless there is some public education about what our bovine friends actually eat or a Hospice for the Holy Horned is set up in every Hindu city, I fear that India’s cows will remain sick to their stomachs.
If you ever travel to either India and/or Nepal, do yourself and a cow a favour. Instead of being swindled by a fake holy man, buy something green and feed a living god. It’s good karma and it’ll cost you less.