In this sixtieth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we learn more about sacred cows in Pushkar in Rajasthan, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
In Hinduism cows are thought to be sacred or deeply respected, but Hindus do not worship cows, although they are held in high esteem and the reason has to do with cows' agricultural uses and gentle nature. Hindus rely heavily on cows for dairy products, for tilling fields and for dung as a source of fuel and fertilizer. The photographer took this photo near the Parikarma Marg in Pushkar, India.
In Hinduism cows are thought to be sacred or deeply respected, but Hindus do not worship cows, although they are held in high esteem and the reason has to do with cows' agricultural uses and gentle nature. Hindus rely heavily on cows for dairy products, for tilling fields and for dung as a source of fuel and fertilizer. The photographer took this photo near the Parikarma Marg in Pushkar, India.

Parikarma Marg in India

So, cows are seen as a 'caretaker' or maternal figure. One Hindu goddess is usually shown in the form of a cow 'Bhoomi', where she represents the Earth. Most Hindus respect cows for their gentle nature. This represents the main teaching of Hinduism, which is do no harm to an animal, called 'Ahimsa'. Cows also represents butter 'Ghee' and strength.

Pushkar cow
Cows are honored in the Indian society and many Hindus do not eat beef, cow meat. Beef consumption is more prevalent among Hindus in the larger Indian subcontinent and in the majority of Indian states it is illegal to eat or possess beef. There is a festival to thank cows for serving farmers for agriculture, This festival is called as 'Mattupongal' which is one among the four days of the grand Indian festival called the Pongal, which is completely focused on thanking each and every agricultural implement. Sacred cow is an idiom and it is a phrase that is used without the literal meaning of being about a cow or religion. When spoken or written it means a person or a belief that has been respected for a long time. It has become sacred and people are then afraid or unwilling to criticise or question it and the idiom is based on the honor shown to cows in Hinduism. Saying "holy cow!" when surprised may be another way of the phrase and an actual 'sacred cow' or 'sacred bull' is a real animal that is treated with sincere respect. In the Hindu tradition, cows are honored, garlanded and given special feedings at festivals all over India. One is the annual Gopastami festival, dedicated to Krishna and cows and the cow's nature is represented in 'Kamadhenu' the goddess who is the mother of all cows. In India, more than 3,000 institutions called 'Gaushalas' care for old and infirm cows and according to animal husbandry statistics there are about 44,900,000 cows in India, which is the highest number in the world. So while some old and infirm cows are treated in Gaushalas, the rest are generally abandoned at public places such as railway stations and bazaars. Honoring the cow inspires in people the virtues of gentleness and connects them with nature and the cow gives milk and cream, yogurt and cheese, butter and ice cream and Ghee. The milk of a cow is believed to refine a person because the Ghee, which is clarified butter from the milk is used in ceremonies and in preparing religious food and cow dung is used as fertilizer, as a fuel and as a disinfectant in homes.

The lake in Pushkar, where the cow photo was taken is quite central and is surrounded by round about 52 ghats that look like a single grand staircase. After he had taken off our shoes again, as with all religious places, the photographer walked barefoot around the lake. Because he was logically around noon in the blazing sun, the stones were partly warm. Fortunately, different materials were used for the stairs, so that you do not burn your feet. In addition, there were between shady places, because the entrances were partly covered. On the main ghat there were many Indians who were washing or bathing in the water. From the opposite lake side he could look at this colorful spot particularly beautiful. Afterwards, he rounded the lake again, this time through the narrow streets full of cows, dogs, rubbish, construction work and above all countless stalls, where the usual were sold like clothes and scarfs.

Rajasthan in India
In the culturally rich Rajasthan visitors can always discover old traditions of Indian life. Typical dance and music styles of the classical folk culture usually deal with the daily relations of people and the housework, often even with the water from the wells. Folk music is an essential part of Rajasthani culture. The traditionally colorful art in is very well known, especially prints and embroidery as well as furniture made of wood, carpets and ceramics. Many believe Rajasthan is a shopping paradise with beautiful goods and precious stones at low prices. Imposing castles, elaborately carved and decorated temples from early times as well as impressive palaces are regarded as important architectural heirs of India and draw tourists from near and far. Also the capital Jaipur offers a beautiful picture with old houses from a pink sandstone type. In the ancient city of Ajmer lies the world-famous marble structure Baradari. The most important religious Hindu festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Tee, Gogaji, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami. Also, Rajasthan Desert Festival is celebrated with great passion and joy. This festival takes place once a year in winter. Amazed by dancing and singing people in the desert and over their gleaming costumes. Snake charmers, puppet players, acrobats and folk music artists and camels of course.

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of some cows in Pushkar. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.