Stranger in a Strange Land
Tales of a Year Abroad

Holy Cow! (No, literally, holy cow)...

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Steve and I recently traveled with Audrey (another Fulbright-Hayes scholar and all-around delightful person) to Baroda. As it is late, any my body hurts from climbing well over 1000 stairs today (I lost count/stopped looking at the numbers around 1,040. However, this is nothing compared to the 10,000 steps at Girnar--a trip we're making later in our stay here). I realized I am no longer a spring chicken or something.

ANYWAYS... this post is a short and sweet update of some interesting sights from today's trip. 

I give you...


In general, cows are sacred here. More specifically, cows are considered manifestations of the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi. Pre-currency days, cows were themselves considered wealth/currency worth trade. So if you link the idea of "wealth" as being able to provide livelihood/sustenance vs. literal monetary value,  the cow becomes this sort of sacred symbol of a provider. Connect the cow to the Goddess Lakshmi, combined THAT with the idea that all goddesses are one in the same, just different variations, and you've also got a physical representation of not only the Goddess Lakshmi, but all the goddess (who are, essentially, one in the same). Hence, the Holy Cow. 

This pretty little Bessie was tied to the side of the pathway. The getup she's wearing is similar to what the figure of the Goddess in the temple wears--orange cloth (orange is an auspicious color, and this more orange-red color is goddess specific), flowers, and cowrie shells (cowrie shells are another form of ancient currency). Much like in the first picture, similar offerings are made to the Goddess as are the cow--flowers, rice, and money (if you look to the right in the picture, there is a small plate full of one and two rupee coins and to the left there is a large bowl of rice). Nothing is accidental or ornamental here, everything represents something very specific to the religion. 

Incidentally, Steve's luck (or non-luck as it is--see this post) with the bovines continues. As he reached out to pat Holy Cow on the nose, she took a bit of umbrage to the gesture of familiarity and tossed her head sideways. It was a gentle toss, but a toss nontheless and one that if she were not secured to the ground could have tagged him squarely in the rib-cage (perhaps lower). Not to be deterred, and in an attempt to get a picture of Steve patting the Holy Cow, at my request Steve patted her again upon which she promptly urinated very close to his flip-flop shod feet. 

"Holy cow!" indeed.

ROFL!! poor steve. Well at least he knows who to go to if he gets stung by a jelly fish... on dry land. Hmm that doesn't work so much, does it?

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The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Alladin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday's bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.
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