The holy cow, known as Gau Mata or Mother Cow, has a special place on the Indian psyche. But why are the cows holy in India? For sure this is a question that most of us have thought at least once. During our visit to Jaisalmer we were staying at a very nice a cozy hotel inside the Fort. We noticed that a cow came everyday to the same house and waited in the entrance until an old men gave her sweets or food. We asked him why and he told us that cows are holy and everyone respect them and also explained to us the reasons why. Many centuries ago, when the Indian civilization was still nomadic and based on the agriculture, money wasn’t established yet on the rural areas and the cow was the way to measure someone’s wealth. Therefore it became the legal currency, exchanged for food and services, given for the marriage dowry or to pay the taxes. Besides, the cow’s milk was the main nutritious source for the majority of the country’s population. The cow’s dung was also used as a combustible in the house stove and as construction material when mixed with clay.
Aside the economical reasons, the cow is also considered holy due to the belief that Hindus can reach heaven just after crossing a mythological river grabbing a cow’s tail. Besides, the ceremony for the soul pass of a dead person includes the donation of a cow to the Brahman priest. This kind of tradition assures that the cows are treated with respect in the Hindu society.