Calf in Rishikesh, India

Calf in Rishikesh, India

You’ve heard the expressions ‘sacred cow’ and ‘holy cow’. As I walk amongst hundreds of free-roaming, sacred bovine in the streets of India, I’ve created a few more in my silly mind, such as Alle-MOO-ia’ and the ‘Holy Moo-dras’. I can’t help myself, it’s how my brain works.

Cows freely roam the street in India

Cows freely roam the street in India

Have you ever given much thought to the origin of the expression? I enjoy learning more about word origins as much as I do cultures. I’ve heard the term Sacred Cow used for someone that is so important to a group that they are almost worshipped. Holy Cow is often used as an expression that denotes astonishment and awe. 

Nandi, The Sacred Hindu Bull

Nandi is the sacred bull and vehicle for the Hindu God, Shiva. Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Digging deeper for why we say these things, you’ll find that many world religions honor and respect the cow as a selfless mother to humanity. She gives of herself without expectation of anything in return. Her milk nourishes her calves and flows for anyone who is in need. She doesn’t discriminate. She provides for everyone.

Ceremony for Nandi, The Sacred Hindu Bull. Angkor Wat, Cambodia. 

Ceremony for Nandi, The Sacred Hindu Bull. Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

In India, I observe how many people honor, respect and adorn bovine with smudge and necklaces. As a sacred gift, families create a special meal made with ghee and flour for the cow to eat before they feed themselves. After all, their cow gives milk that makes vital ghee and yogurt for the family, so it’s a sign of respect to give to her first. She is a part of the family and no harm will ever come to her.

Cow with smudge on her 3rd eye

Cow with smudge on her 3rd eye

So, the next time you see a cow, perhaps you’ll see her differently. You will see her as a selfless and loving mother.

Now I just thought of another word. ‘Moo-ma’. That was an a-MOO-sing one. Ok, I will stop now, or maybe just keep moo-ving.

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