Thursday, July 17, 2008
After encountering more than 100 cows during my foot travels around this city and observing the Nepali people's accomodation to this animal in their midst, I decided to investigate this whole "sacred cow" legend. As it turns out, the cow is not sacred but TABOO in this mostly Hindu country. These photos were taken during my walk home through the Baluwatar neighborhood where I work. The Prime Minister and Speaker's residences are nearby and many of the international embassies are located here. Pretty swanky place by Kathmandu standards. Yet, here they are everyday - the cows. On the streets, they have top priority. All taxis, school buses, motorbikes, bicycles, safa tempos, private vehicles and pedestrians must and do yield to them. Of course, there is usually alot of honking and yelling involved. But not hitting or swatting allowed. Ever.
By and large, the Nepali people do not eat beef but will eat water buffalo or "buff," as it is called in restaurants. I've eaten a buff momo. Not too bad. Also, the wearing of cow leather goods, belts, purses, and shoes, is avoided and they are banned from the temples and festivals.
On a political note: The sacred cow also made news recently with the deposing of the monarch. The government faces a challenge - what to do with his 60 sacred cows. They voted out King Gyanendra in May but removing the beasts could prove trickier. 'Maybe the ministry of agriculture should use them for research,' offered one official.