How did the phrase “Holy Cow” Originate and why? Is it really based on Indian Cows? Are there other cultural or geographic connections to this phrase?
This was one of the topics, which I have posted in my ‘Meetup’ discussions section and several people provided their ideas and thoughts. (Santa Monica Masala - Language and Culture - Meetup group)
My friend Kim commented by stating, “I know the cow is sacred in India because it provides so much for
the people and they are allowed to roam free. I have never been to India but have heard about the holy cows and would like to hear from others who have more information about why they are sacred in India. There's a scene in a wonderful film, Outsourced
that shows a cow wandering around near the call center. The American asks, ‘Wat's that?’ and the Indian says, "it's a cow" in a nonchalant way. That scene is quite funny because it's so natural for a cow to just be around wherever there are people”
Yes, I still remember that scene. It was hilarious. The Cow is sacred in India due to various reasons. India being an agricultural land, cows take one of the primary places in people’s minds. A cow is a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance and selfless giving. Especially the last one “Selfless Giving”. If you take from the cow’s milk to her bones after she dies, every part of a cow is useful to humans and keeps them healthy both body and in mind. However, as far as the Cow’s meat, it was also once consumed by Indians prior to Krishna’s time, there is evidence stating that fact even in ‘Ramayana’ (A controversial topic)
I wanted to know if other cultures revered cow as Holy? I did some research, by going through Google of course!
This is what I found out…just to name a few…
In Jewish Scriptures:
According to Jewish scriptures (Genesis), Aaron who was the elder brother of Moses built a golden Calf to worship as God in order to prevent conflict among the people.
In Zoroastrian philosophy:
In Zoroastrian philosophy, the prophet Zarathustra was known to protect the cows from abuse by some of his fellow men. He proclaims that GOD (Ahuramazda) had commanded him to protect the cows. This could be because the Zoroastrians were mainly cattle breeders. I see a parable between this story and Krishna’s story.
In Ancient Egyptian history, the Cow was regarded as sacred because she represented their Goddess Hathor. In Egypt the Pharaoh was considered as God by its people, just as in India at one point in time, the king was considered to be a personification of God. Cow is also considered to be the mother of God since she is the one who nurtures the Pharaoh / mankind with her milk.
In China, during the period of Zhou dynasty (sometime in 6th century or so) cattle were considered useful and were respected. During this dynasty the emperors banned killing cows. It was also said, that, cows actually showed tears before slaughter and hence released them to temples. According to Chinese history the Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty.
The "wild" cows wandering around the streets of a huge city like Delhi can be one of the topics for discussions about India. They have generations and generations of being revered as holy and unthreatened by people, hence, wander through rush hour traffic without a concern in the world.
I still remember the last time I went to India. I was in a very busy section of the shopping area trying to bargain with the shopkeeper while buying some saris. Suddenly I felt something on my forearm so I turned around and saw a cow walk past me in a very serene manner. It was amazing!! And that was “one of the busiest” shopping area with millions of people all over the place!!!
Unfortunately, the fact that it is a ‘sacred animal’ does not necessarily mean it is being taken care of in a proper way. But people do let them roam “freely” on the streets. I have seen
cows eating from the trash bins. I always wondered whom they belonged to and why is the owner not taking care of them!!
If any of you have any other information on this please feel free to post it so I can learn from you.
Ridiculously Hilarious STILL Innocent
When I first came to US in the month of July, I started my life as a newly married young girl who left everyone who is near and dear back home, just to create a life of my own with a total stranger as my husband. During the course of a few months of time we were no longer strangers.
Although it was difficult to give up a life, that was filled with amazingly wonderful memories and a life that was all made out for me as the way I wanted and I never once needed anything in my life then.
To cross half way across the world to make a new life is not an easy thing to do. But I have learned and still learning. A had a lot to cope with in a short time. When my husband went to work, I had nothing else to do other than cooking, so I drank a lot of coke and watched TV shows such as I love Lucy, All in the family, Beverly Hillbillies, Addams family, Bewitched, Andy Griffith show, Brady bunch, father knows best, I dream of Jeannie, etc., just to name a few and of course, I have also put on some weight …from 100 pounds to 120 within a period of one year.
At first I wasn’t really sure if the programs I was watching were in English! Then slowly I realized they WERE speaking in English but I just could not understand the accent. It took me a good 3 to 4 months to clearly understand and follow what was going on in these shows.
For Thanksgiving, my husband’s boss invited us for dinner at their house along with several others. By then it had been almost 5 months since I landed in US. I wore a sari with jewelry and looked like a typical Indian woman. I am not saying that Indian women ‘look’ any different now but the ‘dresses’ definitely are.
Once we reached there, I saw about 8 to 10 people. After the introductions, I tried to mingle with others and offered my help while seeing some of the ladies were in the kitchen trying to help. While I was there, they all commented on my sari and admired the way it looked. After a few minutes, one of the ladies said, “Your English is good. Where did you learn to speak it?” I was a bit puzzled by that question. However, I tried to hide my expression and said “I learned it in school where English is our first language” with a cool face and a smile. She seemed a bit surprised. Then she said, “I hope you don’t mind, may I ask you a question?” Of course, there was no way for me to know if I would have minded or not, without hearing the question. So I said “Of course no problem, what was the question?”. Then she said, “How did you go to school? On a camel or an elephant?”.
I was astounded by that question and went into a shock. Okay, okay, may be I am over reacting! I did not go into a shock. But I was surprised at the fact she asked that question. I tried not to show my smug look. I realized that would be rude so I snapped out of it. I answered her by saying “We went to school with other kids in the neighborhood, in a rental rickshaw and I went to college, sometimes by bus and sometimes by a chauffeur driven car” with a cool face and a smile. The lady was obviously speechless for a few seconds and then showed great enthusiasm and asked more questions related to India. I was equally motivated and answered her questions.
I realized how much ignorance there was about India in US at that point. Of course, I am not blaming people. People only see and hear through media and make their own opinions. At that time or a few years back then, TV news used to be all about the cyclone that hit India’s northeaster part and how it took people’s homes and destroyed crops and killed a lot of people. Due to that there was a huge famine in Bengal and every piece of news that was shown on TV was about that. So I do understand why she asked the question and cannot really blame her. I honestly think the lady was really curious and did not have any ulterior motive in asking that question.
I did however tried
to explain how big India is and how different people are. Even though we all look the same and have the same culture and festivals, our traditions, food and most of all languages are so different. Due to British rule obviously English seeped into our languages
and yes, we do speak it with different accents and we made it our own. And it is also considered an official language of India along with the national language ‘Hindi’. Every state or region does have ‘English’ as a medium in schools
along with their regional languages. So yes, every one who goes to school that is, has a chance to learn ‘English’.
I still remember the way those 4 ladies listening to me with a mesmerized look. It felt good that I was able to do my duty by enlightening them with my brief explanation. Ha! Ha! Ha! However, one thing is certain, that question about “Camel or Elephant” will never be wiped away from my memory as long as I live.
Is my culture individualistic?
Is my culture individualistic?
I recently came across an article. It has to do with how individualistic people are in this world, in different countries. Title of this article is ‘Wheat People VS Rice People article’
May be I am being picky. But, here it is.
Very interesting article, well thought of and analyzed based on the countries chosen.
As a person from a culture that is one of the ancients in the world where 1.3 billion people exist, who eat rice not to mention it is second to China in rice consumption, and it is also the third largest consumer of wheat. This was not even mentioned in the article. How can the results be accurate?
To keep my pet peeve aside, my opinion is, what we eat has nothing to do with individuality. This does not prove if a country can be individualistic or collective.
I believe, it has to do with the culture, tradition and the way of life in general. May be in the long run that is to say, thousands of years from now if the world still is global, may be then, we will know for sure. But thank god I won’t be here then.
This is what happens when people disregard others who should also be part of the whole. I may be sensitive to this. I guess this is how the stupid ‘wars’ start huh? I am not trying to start one by the way.
But then again…what is my culture? I have no idea….I am into too many cultures. I practice more than just my tradition.
Okay, I digress. Bottom line…
Is my culture individualistic or collective?
Hmmm…!!! Good question.
Love to hear your opinions. Any one? Any one?