Slaughtering a cow for its meat is prohibited in almost all of India. The predominant religion in this country is Hinduism and the vast majority of its inhabitants consider these animals to be sacred, which is why they are protected by law. It is common to see them wandering the streets and hindering vehicle traffic.

A National Geographic article published in 2023 stated: “Wandering cattle trample crops, spread disease and cause traffic accidents.” However, they are revered creatures and there are even refuges for them. The state-run Animal Welfare Board of India has proposed renaming Valentine’s Day as “Hug the Cow Day.”

The writer and popularizer Eugenio Manuel Fernández Aguilar indicates that the origin of this custom is lost in the past. Population growth 2,500 years ago led to an increase in vegetable crops and a reduction in pasture, which caused cow numbers to decline.

The veneration of cows in India could have arisen due to their economic value, since it was more profitable to keep them alive. Milk is very important in the country’s usual diet. Likewise, these ruminants are useful for agriculture and their manure is used as fertilizer. On the other hand, the entry of Buddhism in India, which defines meat consumption as something cruel, would also have had an influence.

Ancient texts offer different versions about the birth of the bovine cult and its connection with the deities. There are multiple legends about Surabhi, a cow that can grant wishes and is considered one of the mothers of humanity. The god Krishna is represented as a cowherd in Hinduism. For practitioners of this religion, cows are incarnations of all the gods and symbols of strength, abundance, motherhood, fertility and a full life.