The sacred cow
May 12, 2020
In the Hindu religion, the cow has acquired a sacred status. It used to be sacrificed like other animals and offered to the gods and its meat was eaten. The cow was gradually incorporated into a religious ritual and itself became sacred and an object of veneration from the 4th century BCE. It represents Mother Earth, as it is a source of goodness and its milk nourishes all creatures. Krishna, a central Hindu deity, is often portrayed in stories recounting his life as a cowherd and referring to him as the child who protects cows.
Today, Hindus, who represent around 80% of the Indian population, rarely eat meat. The consumption of beef is taboo for religious reasons. Some Indian states have even introduced this principle into their legal system, by passing laws to forbid the slaughter and consumption of cows (but without going so far as to prosecute beef eaters). Supporters of secularism and members of other religions denounce these laws. They are seen as an attack on fundamental human rights and as a form of discrimination with regard to other religious communities (Muslim and Christian in particular) which authorise the consumption of beef