Animals in India (not Leigh)

Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
Trip End Jan 10, 2013

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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Sunday, August 5, 2012

We knew we were going to see cows walking the streets. You see them in all the pictures about India but actually there were more dogs than cows or anything else.

We didn't take any photos but they were everywhere. Not big dogs, just small ones. I am not sure of their breed not being a dog person. They were pretty skinny too and like all of the other animals feeding off the scraps that litter the roads everywhere. It was hard to know if they had owners to love them or not.

I remember walking along to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar passing many dogs along the way thinking back to our travel vaccine conversation with our doctor... he said "you won't be going near stray dogs will you? otherwise you'll need a rabies vaccination" and we said "no, no way". Hhhmmmm. Honestly thought, it wasn't a problem, they fight amongst themselves, probably for food but ignore humans.

Elephants are not just animals but they also call the trucks with extremely heavy loads of straw elephants and they do look like elephants on the road (see attached pic). They look so dangerous but how heavy can a load of straw be? Elephants, horses, donkeys & camels along with cows and bulls are used to cart, carry and drag all manner of things. There is still so much done without machines in the parts of India we saw. We did have a couple of opportunities to experience being carted around by animals but we politely declined. They smell.

I have never seen as many pigeons in suburban areas as I have in northern India! They circle around looking for food and I guess they are there because there is plenty to find. Venice has a bad reputation for pigeons and sea gulls but it has nothing on what we have seen here.
I have never liked animals much but you can't help but feel sorry for the ones we have seen. Their lives are pretty dam tough, as tough as the people around them.

Cows are are sacred as you know but they are not just farmed for their milk which is used in milk, cheese, butter, clarified butter (ghee) and so many dishes but there are other uses for cows and their by-products:

- When a Hindu baby turns one there is a big ceremony whereby along with inviting family, friends and a priest along to celebrate fresh urine from the cow needs to be collected to pour over the babies forehead. Our driver told us a funny story about chasing around after a random cow waiting until it did a wee. He doesn't own one himself so he had to stalk others. It is a very expensive ceremony by the sounds of it.

- When a cow comes by your house (and of course you let her go wherever she likes in or out of your house) you bend at her feet, offer thanks, food and pray. All people feed the cows, I am surprised they are not fatter. It is against the law to hurt a cow.

- Dung or shit as the Indians call it. People collect it and store it in big ornate piles to use in the winter months for burning. People who can afford it wrap the piles in straw to protect it from the weather but we saw them stamped with ornate patterns as wll. Leigh asked the obvious question "doesn't it smell" to which our driver replied "yeah to you, but it keeps the Mosquitos away". Perfect.

- Dung is also used to mix up with dirt to cover houses as an insect repellent.

- I have also heard of dung being used to 'disinfect' dining tables after a meal is finished.

- A cow is considered equivalent to one's Mother or Goddess by many Hindus.
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