The cow’s status as a sacred being in Hinduism is increasingly being threatened as more wealthy Indians, even Hindus, are turning carnivorous, as Gardiner Harris of The New York Times recently reported. Meanwhile, the increasing demand for beef is driving gangs to steal cows that are wandering around Delhi so that the animals can be sold to slaughterhouses.
Still, cows have plenty of protectors in India, and even beyond its borders. Thousands of miles away, Indian citizens living in the United States regularly send money to cow shelters in India like Mataji Gaushala, located in Barsana, near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
Mataji Gaushala is one of the biggest cow shelters in northern India, spread over 42 acres. It houses 20,000 cows, most of them old and no longer providing milk. Brijinder Sharma, manager of Mataji Gaushala, said the shelter’s objective is to let the animals live a natural life and die from natural causes.
Subhash Puri, 69, a civil engineer who retired from the American government in 2011, lives in Laurel, Maryland, but sends money, after collecting it from other Indian patrons, and visits Mataji Gaushala often, spending four to six months out of the year.
“The cow is our mother,” he said. “It is our duty to give them a dignified life. We try to save them from the slaughterhouses.”
Mr. Puri said Indians in the United States who support the shelter include doctors, engineers and IT professionals. “They give new ideas to run the place,” he said.