Sacred Cows & Holy Crap

with 11 Comments


It’s widely known that cows are sacred in Hinduism but did you ever wonder why? In the Hindu faith, cows are considered to be generously bountiful. They represent life as well as the Earth and are regarded as ever-giving providers and nurturers of all creatures.

A popular misconception is that cows are worshiped by Hindus but this is simply not the case. Hindus do, however, adore, honor and have great respect for cows (which is why it is forbidden to kill and eat them in India). It’s not uncommon to see cows adorned with flowers, bells and even decorated with colorful splashes of paint.




When visiting India, it does take some time getting used to not only seeing cows just about everywhere but also skillfully manoeuvering around them. Simply put – cows rule. They rule the narrow alleyways where there’s barely enough space for one person let alone a cow, they rule the busy streets with cars (not so) carefully avoiding them. And they’re surprisingly very agile – steep stairs are no match for a cow no matter how much it weighs.

We were told that all the cows have owners – they’re not just randomly wandering the streets left to their own demise (although it certainly seems that way). I was a little confused by this seeing that most of the cows living in urban settings were rummaging through piles of garbage to feed themselves.

One of the big issues with cows roaming freely in the streets is that the streets are littered with their “activity” if you know what I mean. And cow “activity” is really big and really messy – it could literally project itself at any given moment! So while trying to appreciate the surroundings, we also spent a lot of time actually looking at the ground trying to avoid puddles of holy crap. For the most part we did avoid stepping into any cow business….notice I wrote for the most part.

That being said, I did find cows to be very photogenic and I enjoyed taking pictures of them in amusing and unexpected places. Here are a few of the sacred cows of India.


These cows were actually trying to get into this shop!







Can you see the fear on my face?





Cows getting pampered in the Ganges (the same place people bathe in……)

Read all about my travels in India!




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What are your thoughts on the sacred cows of India? Do you have any interesting encounters to share? 


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  • Hey Lydia, that was a really fun post to read! I’ll make sure to pin it and tweet it 🙂
    Cheers, N.

  • The Full-Time Tourist

    I’ve heard so many things about the cows wandering in the streets in India. I never even considered the holy crap that would be in the streets as well! Did you find it smelled or was it about the same as any other metropolis? Also those cows are definitely a photogenic bunch, as you said!!


      With all the cow crap and other garbage, unfortunately, it does tend to smell a lot. I often held my nose and my breath….lol!


    Hi Sarj! Glad I made you laugh! Maybe the cows are fed up of all the “paparazzi”…! I can imagine that a guy on a moped is no challenge for a bunch of cows – like I said, they rule the streets so best get out of the way! 😉


    I was uneasy many times when I was near a cow or, worse, a group of cows but they’re quite docile. Only once did I get really scared when one of them started charging wildly in the narrow streets of Varanasi. Even the locals were running away….lol!


    Hi Rashmi & Chalukya! Thanks so much for your comment. We did see some cows being fed (by their owners?). I’m sure many cows are well taken care of because most of them are big and don’t look like they’re starving in any way. 🙂


    It’s definitely strange sharing your space with cows but that’s just one of the things that makes India so crazy and wonderful! All that crap did incite a few swear words along the way….lol! I tried to avoid following any of the cows. 😉


    It’s definitely overwhelming and takes time to get used to. They really don’t give a f*** about anyone so you just have to adjust…lol! And it was strange seeing them on the highway, you would think they would avoid such a busy area but, hey, they rule everywhere!


    haha…..yes cow “activity” is hard to avoid in India! Interesting about them roaming around in Tipperary – wonder how they would fair in India’s chaos?!


    Gotta love the cows in India but I was weary of all the crap. It’s everywhere and very hard to avoid….lol! It happened several times when store owners tried to keep cows away but I think it’s because they probably feed them sometimes so the cows figure it’s okay.


    Hi Fray! I really enjoyed capturing some cows on camera but I I admit I was mostly fearful of them…lol. They did, however, seem docile most of the time except for one time in Varanasi when one was charging at everyone in the narrow alleyway. We got out of the way and no one was hurt but my heart was racing!

    Cows are sacred but aren’t worshiped so no one ever told us not to take pictures of them and no one was ever offended. They mostly found it curious (and funny) that we were taking so many pictures of cows cause to them it was just normal to see them everywhere.