Time and time again, parents have lectured their children on the importance of drinking milk, which in the U.S. comes mostly from cows, and on how milk will help them grow up to be big and strong.
But what if the roles were reversed? Would feeding a calf a woman’s breast milk help it grow to become a big and strong cow?
That is exactly what one woman from India is doing, according to a report from Reuters.
Meet Chouthi Bai, a woman from Kilchu village, Rajasthan, who has taken it upon herself to breastfeed a three-day-old calf whose mother had recently died.
Because of the young age of the animal and a lack of a caregiver, Bai has spent the last month and a half nurturing the young calf and breastfeeding it up to three or four times a day.
“After her mother died, I held her in my arms and breastfed her,” said Bai to a Reuters’ reporter.
“I nurtured her by feeding her my milk. She was so young when the cow died. For me there is no difference between a calf and an infant.”
According to locals, no one can remember an event like this ever taking place before and many have noted that the calf now follows after Bai in a manner similar to a puppy dog.
Besides the breastfeeding, Bai says that the calf also receives bread and grass in the hopes that, “she will grow on this diet.
So, even in my absence she is fed. She will grow up eating grass. The gods will be pleased if I raise her.”
Cultural Significance Of The “Sacred Cow” In India
In India, the cow is held in great regard due to its significance throughout the history of the Hindu religion and is a protected animal in Hinduism today.
There are many hymns in the Hindu scriptures that make reference to cows and cattle and the animal is often referred to as a spiritual and giving creature.
Many rural Indian families have one dairy cow that they regard as part of the family, making Bai’s actions in nurturing the orphaned calf quite understandable.
Cows are thought to be gentle spirits that nourish the children and family as a whole and many products of the cow – including and not limited to milk, curds, ghee butter, urine and dung – are used in various forms of worship.
Once a year, a celebration or “Cow Holiday” is held in honor of the cows and villagers take part in a ceremony in which the cows are washed and decorated before receiving a number of offerings so that the lives of the villagers will be fruitful.