India: a Cow’s Paradise?

Dear Reader,

If you think about it, the life of a cow is something incredible to describe.
If you’re in the American continent, central and southern Europe, then I would say ‘poor cow!’… Inevitably, beef is part of our delicious diet. Go to Argentina and you will find that eating beef is a religion just as important as soccer.
Good for us but sad for them. Short life, lived in a farm if lucky, fed with chemicals most times and then slaughtered for our pleasure on a plate.
Now imagine for one second, dear Reader, as a cow going from this…

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At Parrilladas El Gaucho you will find a beautiful map of a cow’s body. Each part of the cow has its special taste and obvious difference in price. I came here for lunch with my colleagues few years ago.

… to this

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A woman worshipping a decorated cow during a Jainist festivity.

You’d probably think the second option is best for a cow.
In Hindu tradition, a cow is honoured and worshipped for many reasons: due their agricultural uses like tilling and fertilising the fields, due to their gentle nature, because they are a major source of dairy products. In a way, cows represent a form of caretaker and maternal figure for Hindus.

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As a result, cows are found literally everywhere you walk in India, ambling unmolested in traffic-choked streets, stationed at crossroads, stationed in front of markets and stores completely undisturbed.

In case of car accidents resulting in a injured cow, normally the latter should be taken to a hospital if a vet is not nearby. Truth is, most times they are left to die or starve.

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Fond of this pond. Water buffalos enjoy just as much pleasure as their bovine cousins.

 


Calves, cows and bullocks may enjoy similar privileges but only the cow is sacred.
For example, bullocks are a minority and they are fed well because of that and used for agriculture purposes and mating as well as to preserve their inferior number. However important calves will be at some point, they are not useful until they reach maturity.
Healthy cows have to starve or feed on rubbish. Bullocks, not so sacred, are fed because India has too many cows and not enough bullocks.

However sacred these animals are, there are times where you really question it.

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These are cows I saw eating garbage. Most of cows in Rajasthan, i.e., are owned by dairy farmers who let them loose in the streets to look for free food instead of feeding them regularly. Some family can afford feeding their cattle only once a day. This way they ingest plastic bags, rotten food and garbage, resulting in a potential reduction in their milk production ability, poisoning and even death.

This is the reality. Can we really call it paradise?

 

 

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Inter-caste Marriage

Dear Reader,

Traditionally, the caste system in India forbids marriage outside the same caste. However, in the past few years inter-caste marriages have gradually gained acceptance due to increasing education, employment, middle-class economic background, and urbanisation, mostly provided by the central government in light of the increasing number of such marriages and in an effort of integrating the dalits or untouchables in government job positions.

However there are advances on this matter mostly in the capital, inter-caste marriage remains particularly frowned upon  in the countryside where these unions primarily take place on the traditional grounds of jatis (higher-caste) and up-jati (sub-caste), forcing the spouse of the higher caste to be alienated from his family and community.

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Deepak and Meene are couple married outside of their castes in Jaisalmer. I met them in their little store where they sell beautiful embroidery and patchwork made by underprivileged or divorced women from the region. 

Hagia Sophia: Islamic Calligraphy Roundels

Dear Reader,

Turkey is an astonishing country filled with cultures blended together and marked by wars and empire atmosphere can still be felt in the air.

Where do you see this majestic blend? Basically everywhere you walk although my favourite place still is the Hagia Sophia.
This temple was once a church, then mosque and then museum is known as Church of the Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia (Άγια Σοφία) in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin or Aya Sofya in Turkish, is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now is mostly a museum and is globally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.

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This is a photo I took of the interior view of the Hagia Sophia, showing Islamic elements on the top of the main dome which are called Roundels.

It is truly breathtaking and decorated with mihrabs, portals, domes, mosaics and urns.
Inside the monument I found 8 beautiful hanging medallions which are in fact known as Roundels. To me these medallions, added in the 19th century, represent a strong contrast with the Christian mosaics giving us an idea of how these religions blend in one place.
These roundels have Arabic calligraphy signs painted painted wooden plaques that were added in the 19th century as part of the restoration ordered by Sultan Abdülmecid and supervised by the Swiss-Italian architect brothers Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati. The calligrapher is Kazasker Izzet Efendi and the roundel I show above is the name of the Muslim Rashidun Caliph Uthman Medallion written in in Thuluth Arabic calligraphy.

How to make your dreams come true: the Japanese Shinto ritual

Dear Reader,

I bet everyone you know would love to have a formula to make their wishes and dreams come true, and the sooner the better.
Well, Stanito, big Japan fan as she is, found the way to do it. The Shinto way to do it, to be more precise.
She found it for you in the outskirts of Tokyo in a mid-summer afternoon…

Continue reading “How to make your dreams come true: the Japanese Shinto ritual”

Masada “The Fortress”, Israel

Masada,  a legend of fighting for freedom, the story of resistance against slavery, the backdrop of one of the most dramatic episodes on Jewish history. In the times of Roman-occupied Israel, Masada was the last remaining fortress to be conquered. A crave for victory which led a handful of Jews to run away and find only one question: be a slave for the Romans or die.

Continue reading “Masada “The Fortress”, Israel”

Pope Benedict XVI and his resignation

Pope Benedict XVI and his resignation

It is the Vatican’s conspiracy that led Ratzinger to resign. It is Vatileaks’ fault. It is the scandal of the IWR – Institute for Works of Religion – or commonly known as the Vatican Bank. It is because of the pedophilia accusations towards many members of the clergy that tired him. Perhaps it is because Ratzinger wasn’t really popular. It is because he is being blackmailed by the Vatican’s Illuminati. It is because he is suffering from a terrible disease. Maybe it’s because he wants to get married. Finally, it is because he met the aliens and saw a better hope there. Continue reading “Pope Benedict XVI and his resignation”