National animal of Nepal:-Just as countries have their flag, in many cases, they are associated with a typical animal that becomes it’s “national animal” and becomes an image that identifies it.
Birds and mammals, fundamentally, can be icons of different countries, which are usually habitual of their fauna. They are related to their history and their cultures.
To decide which species will represent them internationally, the countries are based on those that inhabit the territory and are typical of the ecosystem. Of course, there are also national animals related to mythology or culture.
Nepal is a very ancient state, and the culture of this country pays great attention to the animal world. For example, a cow, which the Hindus consider sacred, is elevated to the rank of a national animal. And its image along with a beautiful bird of the Himalayan mountains – a pheasant adorns the emblem of the state.
Nepalese worship the cow as the goddess of wealth Lakshmi. Naturally, for the Nepalese people, who are mainly engaged in agriculture, the cow is the personification of wealth, since the fertility of the land depends on it. Butter derived from cow’s milk is traditionally exported to India.
Killing a cow is strictly prohibited by law. Therefore, there can be no talk about a beef dish. But the purest and most nutritious product is cow’s milk. In Nepal, dairy products are highly valued.
Why cow is selected to be the national animal of Nepal?
It is believed that the body of the cow lodges around 330 million gods and goddesses. Apart from this divine character, for Hindus, the cow represents abundance, fertility and nature, symbolizes the mother and is the provider of milk and other foods. In Nepal, the cow is protected by law. Nobody dares to kill a cow (it is also penalized), but neither to persecute it nor to mistreat it.
Hinduism considers the cow to be the highest being, and in fact, it is reincarnation prior to that of humans. It symbolizes Mother Earth and its abundance, and by extension, fertility. Almost all the most important deities bear some relation to the animal, and their image, always in immaculate white, is constant in many temples.
Legend has it that Surabhi, one of the many names of the deified cow, was sent to Earth by Krishna himself to feed the children with her nectar and to establish a connection between both worlds.
In Nepal, the basis of the most common religions is Hinduism and Buddhism whose main principle is not harming living creatures (some religious groups do not even plough the earth, for fear of damaging the earthworms).
The concept of ahimsa (non-harming, “non-violence”, “non-killing”) arose between the fifth and sixth centuries of our era. And the cows were no longer slaughtered in about 200 AD. Hence, scientists conclude that this happened under the influence of a widespread religious idea.
Now, that sacred character that Hinduism confers on cows not only responds to religious reasons but is also protected by the pragmatism of economic reasons. Nepal is a country that is basically agricultural and not industrialized.
This means directly that animal traction is needed to plough the land and for the rest of the work in the field. If the cows were slaughtered, there would not be enough animals to perform agricultural tasks. In second place are all the products that the cow offers.
In addition to food, milk, curds, cheeses and butter, cow dung is a fuel with high caloric capacity, which is also used as a fertilizer, as a mosquito repellent, as an insulator and as a construction material.
Urine is also used as a disinfectant and, as if this were not enough, a cola drink has recently been launched on the market that has been widely accepted, made with medicinal herbs and cow urine.
Cows and the history of the Hindu religion
In the first centuries after Jainism, it was said that killing a cow was as serious as killing a Brahman, the priest of superior caste. In addition, Hindu mythological texts portray Mother Earth as a cow.
This is because the cow is an animal that feeds its milk to everyone, regardless of whether or not it has been raised. When the Earth was contaminated by demons, and humans could not live in it, Mother Earth presented herself to the Supreme Lord in the form of a cow and asked for the salvation of her children, humans.
Today, Hindus do not eat meat and in general, each family has a dairy cow, whom they treat as if they were another member of the family. The five products that the cow provides – milk, curd, ghee butter, urine and manure – are used in adoration and rites of extreme penance.
Hinduism venerates cows because they are the symbol of all that is alive. It is the Mother in capital letters. There is no greater sacrilege for a Hindu than killing a cow. Farm families consider their cows as members of the family, adorn them with garlands and tassels, pray for them when they get sick. And call their neighbours and a priest to celebrate the birth of a new calf.
The bulls dedicated to Shiva roam freely in the city, and drivers of cars are obliged to drive around them carefully. And try to divert their attention from their goods, since it is considered a great sin to hit this sacred animal. Previously, near Kathmandu, near the Pashupatinath Temple, there was a huge field where bulls grazed.
This place is called gauchar, i.e. “Field of bulls.” Now here is the capital’s airfield, and many of the bulls that lived there had to settle in various areas of Nepal. And for old cows that no longer give milk, there are special rooms – gaushala.
The freedom of the cows sometimes makes them go into stores, eat the food from the stalls or create amusing circulatory chaos. It is not disrespectful to chase them away by giving them, with the palm of the hand or a stick, a blow on the muzzle.
And in the apparent small trap appear again the sacred texts, appealing to that even the venerated cow lied testifying in favour of Vishnu and to the detriment of Shiva, and therefore can be punished with the tap.
Sometimes you see them running down the street all together as if it were confinement. You see them stealing food from the market stalls, eating garbage, cardboard, grass … everything that is put at their fingertips and they can chew.
With jiba or without jiba, white, brown, black, with big or with small horns, curled or straight, dressed, painted, fat, skinny, pregnant … You see them go back home and knock on the door to enter, you see them licking others and their calves.
You see them sleeping together huddled anywhere, on the street, on the sidewalk, on a bridge, on the road, on a staircase … Here they are totally free.
When a cow was declared as the national animal of Nepal?
Nepal’s national animal is the cow since the year 1962. For the first time in the Constitution of 1962, Nepal was defined as the Rajashi Hindu nation. The cow was a sacred animal before this.
From this time modern Nepalese nationalism also was born. King Mahendra started the process of Hinduization of Non-Hindu population by giving the form of Nepal nationalism to Hindu religion. King Mahendra applied the principle ‘one country, one apparel, one language’ to all nationalism in Nepal.
Thus, in the context of Nepal, the question of a cow is not just a question of an animal. It is associated with the timing of history when the Hindu state began to be established in the present Nepal land. The influence of the Islamic state in India forced the Hindu kings to flee to the mountains. They set up many ancient states in the mountains.
Later, King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha kingdom united these states and made the foundation of modern Nepal. The term Gorkha has derived for the Sanskrit word Gaurakshya which means the protection of cow.
The new constitution of 2015 has also established and declared Cow as the national animal of Nepal.
Some hindrances before declaring cow as the national animal of the country under a new constitution
The old Nepal have easily accepted cow as their national animal. But after the political revolution and formation of the new constitution, the question arose whether cow would be accepted as the national animal or not.
Previous Nepal was the Hindu kingdom but today’s Nepal is the Neural Nepal where every religion, the cast are equal. A cow is worshipped as a goddess in the Hindu religion. But Christian, Muslim and other communities don’t regard the cow as their mother or god.
In fact, they very much prefer the meat of the cow. Voices have been raised to give permission to kill the cows like other animals. Since western countries have been practising the norm a long time ago.
About fifty members of the tribal and Dalit minorities of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, engaged in the drafting of the definitive Constitution of that country, have requested that the cow be replaced by the unicorn rhinoceros as the animal symbol of the country.
According to the deputies, the cow would not be “a neutral symbol”, but would represent only the Hindu community, which reveres the animal as a sacred symbol of prosperity. Nepal continues to be agitated by the disagreement over the rules contained in the draft of the fundamental charter, presented at the end of June after years of parliamentary struggles.
The last diatribe joins the protests of recent weeks, which have seen dozens of activists in favour of women’s rights. The association of non-resident citizens and representatives of the Christian minority who denounce religious discrimination to the squares.
The members of the minority parties of the Assembly consider that an animal species at risk of extinction. Such as the unicorn rhinoceros – could be a national symbol more suited to the secular image of the country and would be of help in preserving the existence of the species.
Pemba Bhote, representative of CPN-UML [Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist] and secretary general of the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Nepal (NEFIN) said: “The cow is the electoral emblem of a political party and is Associated with a particular religion.
The State could use the law as an instrument to criminalize the non-Hindu population that eats beef, as happened in the past, whereas if it is replaced by the rhino, it would be an acceptable solution to everyone.”
Until the Maoist party, UCPN (Unified Communist Party of Nepal) denounces the possible discriminations derived from the norm. It’s members argue, among other things, that identifying the cow as an animal emblem of the State contradicts the “spirit of secularism” upon which the future Democratic Federation of the Republic of Nepal should be founded.
However, the cow was once again declared as the national animal al.of Nepal. According to the current norms, the value of the sacred animal in Hinduism is comparable to that of human life.
Whoever kills a cow during a road accident is obliged to pay 500,000 rupees, equivalent to amount to be paid in the event of the murder of a human being (for which funeral expenses are also included).
Voices have still been raised from time to time to give permission to kill the cows. Maybe due to the influence of western culture or maybe because people have been more aware. People have been trying to use the cows like other animals.
The debate for and against declaring cow as the national animal of Nepal
As cow again has been announced as the national animal of Nepal, many communities and religion have rebelled against the decision. Before declaration and after, various communities have been objecting the decision.
Time to time we often hear the news that some people have been Killing cows concealing fr.the society. But when found out, they have been punished. According to the law, the convicted would be imprisoned for 12 years.
Before announcing, the government should also have clearly taken a vote of all the members of the parliament. The government should have specified the clear reason on why it has declared the cow as the national animal.
Not only from the religious beliefs, but a cow is completely justified to be the national animal of Nepal. So before discussing for and against the cow becoming the national animal. We should firstly understand cow fully, we should know all about it, it’s positive and negative impacts. So let’s know about cow first.
The usefulness of the cow in Nepalese society
Cows and other cattle excrete recoverable manure which is used as fertilizer, while most of the rest is used as cooking fuel. The annual amount of heat released by this dung, one of the main fuel used by the housewife in the rural areas, is the thermal equivalent of tons of kerosene, tons of coal or tons of wood.
Since Nepal has only small reserves of oil and coal and is already the victim of extensive deforestation, these fuels cannot be considered practical substitutes for cow dung.
The thought of the dung in the kitchen may not attract the Western, but Nepalese women consider it a superior fuel for cooking because it adapts in an excellent way to their domestic routines.
Most of the Nepalese dishes are prepared with a refined butter called ghee for which the cow dung is the preferred source of heat. Since it burns with a clean, slow, long-lasting flame that will not spoil food.
This allows the Nepalese housewife to be unconcerned about the kitchen while taking care of the children, helping out in the field, or doing other tasks.
The cow dung fulfils at least one other important function. Mixed with water, it becomes a paste used as a material to cover the floor of the home. Smeared on the earthen floor and letting it harden until it becomes a smooth surface, prevents the formation of dust and can be cleaned with a broom.
The deficit of draft animals constitutes a terrible threat that looms over most of the peasant families of Nepal. When an ox falls ill, the poor peasant is in danger of losing his farm. If you do not have any substitute, you will have to borrow money with usurious interest.
Millions of rural families have in fact lost all or part of their assets and have become sharecroppers or labourers as a result of these debts. Every year hundreds of thousands of destitute farmers end up migrating to the cities, which are already full of people without jobs and without homes.
The farmer who can not replace his sick or dead ox is more or less in the same situation as an American farmer who cannot replace or repair his damaged tractor. But there is an important difference: the tractors are manufactured in factories, but the oxen are born from the cows. A farmer who owns a cow owns a factory to produce oxen.
With or without cow love, this is a good reason to have little interest in selling your cow to the slaughterhouse. The taboo that prohibits the sacrifice and eating of beef can be a product of natural selection as well as the small body size and the fabulous capacity of recovery of the zebu breeds.
In times of drought and scarcity, farmers are very tempted to kill or sell their cattle. Those who succumb to this temptation sign their own death sentence, even when they survive the drought. Since when the rains come they will not be able to plough their fields.
The massive slaughter of cattle under pressure from hunger constitutes a much greater threat to collective well-being than any possible miscalculation of individual farmers regarding the use of their animals in normal times.
It seems likely that the unspeakable sense of sacrilege implied by the slaughter of cows is rooted in the intolerable contradiction between immediate needs and conditions of long-term survival. The love of cows with their sacred symbols and doctrines protects the farmer against calculations that are only “rational” in the short term.
All the Information about cow
The cow (Bos primigenius Taurus) is raised in many different countries around the world, to obtain natural resources such as milk, meat and leather. In Nepal, the cow is considered a sacred animal.
It was domesticated in Asia 7,000 years ago from the uro, a large bovine animal native to Africa and Eurasia with large horns and thick fur. It is estimated that there are about 1.5 million cows around the world. And most of them are raised by farmers although it is also possible that there are still free red cows.
• The cow is a farm animal that was domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East.
• The cow is a robust and large ruminant. The weight of this mammal is 600 to 800kg, and its measurement is approximately 120 to 150cm.
• It is a herbivorous animal, its food consists of grass, herbs, seeds and leaves. The most common in it’s diet is to consume a large amount of roots, preferably from Fabaceae and grasses.
• In the pastures, they find the necessary nutrients such as alfalfa, clover and lotus. The cow is fed 9 hours a day.
• The gestation of the cows has an approximate time of 9 months. The small ones weigh at birth around 40kg. The calves feed on breast milk until they reach 6 months of age, later they consume grains and herbs. The young reach puberty at 8 months of age.
• The longevity of the cow has an average of 20 to 25 years of age.
• Cows are large mammal animals with limbs ending in the hoof. The size of their horn can vary between species, but there are no cows without horns because they are extinct due to a careful genetic selection. They spend the day in flocks of 40 – 50 cows, grazing in pastures and shrubs.
• The head of the cow is large and on each side of its head has two hollow horns. The neck is short and wide, and they have a double chin hanging below the chest. Purchased from the rest of the bovine animals, the cow has a fairly extensive tail ending with a tuft of long hair. The back is straight with the back slightly arched. The females have a large udder under the belly in the back room with four nipples from which the milk is obtained.
• The body is covered, in its entirety, by short hairs that vary from white to black through various shades of reds and browns. Some cows have varied patterns or designs and some species have a single colour with extensive spots of another colour.
• It is estimated that 18% of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere come from livestock. Cows release methane through belching and flatulence.
• In the cow, vision is the dominant sense with 50% of information captured. To assist in the detection of predators, the eyes are located on both sides of the head, allowing the cow to have a 330º field of vision. But this limits the binocular vision from 30º to 40º compared to a 140º human, which means that behind them they have a blind spot. His visual acuity is quite good but if we compare it with the human one it is quite deficient.
• Often, humans believe that cows and bulls (male cows) are insulted by the colour red but it is completely uncertain because the cows are colourblind. This is believed due to bullfights where they use a red flag to encourage bullfighting, but what it does is not the colour, but the wave of the flag itself.
• The cow has a well-developed taste and they are able to distinguish four flavours (sweet, salty, bitter and acid) by using 20,000 taste buds. They avoid bitter taste because they can be potentially toxic and prefer sweet and salty foods.
• Plants have a low level of sodium but cows have learned to look for salt through taste and smell. When it is lacking, it uses its olfactory and gustatory receptors to detect any food that contains the least amount of sodium.
• His hearing is sharper than that of horses. With an acuity threshold of 30º, they are worse detecting sounds compared to goats (18º), dogs (8º) and humans (0,8º). It is believed that since his vision covers the entire horizon his hearing is not necessary to fix his gaze towards a source of the sound.
• The cow’s mooing is a means to communicate with the rest of the cattle and can provide information such as age, sex, reproductive status … Calves can locate their mother and the bulls use it to indicate zeal and competitive display.
• Cows are ruminant animals, therefore, their digestive system is specialized in digesting all kinds of plants. It is believed that cows have four stomachs, but in reality, they only have one. But divided into four separate compartments known as rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum, with the rumen being the largest compartment.
The reticle is the smallest compartment known as the “honeycomb.” The function of the omaso is to absorb water and nutrients from the digestible food. The abomasum is known as the “true stomach” because it is more similar to the human stomach.
• Ruminants are known to regurgitate and chew their food again. While the animal is eating, the food is swallowed without first being chewed and kept in the rumen until the animal finds a quiet moment to perform the digestion. The rumen contains microbes responsible for the breakdown of cellulose and carbohydrates that livestock will use as energy. These microbes, when they die, come to the cattle valuable high-quality proteins.
• The posture of the ears of cows are indicators of mood and general well-being. Temperament is important because it can affect the quality of the meat, milk or animal reproduction. When cattle are stressed, other animals are able to recognize it by the chemicals in their urine.
• When a cow is isolated in the short term can suffer severe psychological stress. When it is necessary to have the cow isolated, mirrors are used to avoid stressing it.
• The cow is a herbivorous animal that feeds mainly on the but also consumes herbs, stems, leaves, seeds and roots of numerous plants. They eat for most of the day, in total, about eight hours a day.
• In general, the cow is not endangered and is classified as a minor concern, but it is true that some species of cows are in danger of extinction such as cows that were destined mainly for agricultural work.
• The cow has the possibility of crossing with other animals with other species close to it, such as yaks and bison. These animals have been crossed with cows obtaining successful hybrids. However, it is impossible to cross to the cow with buffalos.
• Both the cow and the bull reach sexual maturity in their first year. The cow can give birth until 12 years of age. Currently, reproduction can be natural or by artificial insemination.
• According to the Mahabharata, these should be treated as well as a mother is treated. They appear in numerous stories of the Vedas and Puranas but do not have dedicated temples. Lord Krishna was raised by shepherds and was given the name of Govinda (protector of cows). Also, it is said that Shiva rides on the back of a bull named Nandi.
Curiosities of the cow
Cows are exceptional animals and can show their emotions in different ways. Here some interesting facts about these extraordinary animals are described.
1. These gentle giants are generally very intelligent animals, who can remember things for a long time. Studies reveal that they interact in complex social ways, develop friendships and have the ability to remember bad experiences lived with other cows.
2. They also understand cause-effect relationships. For example, they can learn how to push a lever to operate a drinking fountain when they are thirsty or press a button with their head to release grains when they are hungry.
3. They get excited when they find the solution to a challenge. They are also highly sociable animals, which establish a hierarchy, which constitutes a social group with rules and very organized.
4. They also demonstrate their emotions by means of the temperature of their noses. A new study concluded that by putting the cows in a quiet state, caressing them in their preferred regions, you were enjoying the positive experience and producing a decrease in the nasal temperature.
5. Happy cows, that live in adequate conditions with the availability of shade and an adequate level of health, are more productive animals than those that do not have access to satisfy their basic needs.
6. They can also show their mood by moving their ears, it was found that the cows move their ears in four different positions. Two when relaxed and two when they were alert.
7. They produce up to 55 litres of saliva daily.
8. They can climb a ladder but are unable to climb down it.
9. They spend 6 to 7 hours a day eating food and about 8 hours chewing it.
10. A cow of 450kg in weight can produce 10 tons of fertilizer every year.
11. They are able to drink 130 litres of water a day.
12. They have a magnificent sense of smell and can smell something 10 km away.
13. They are the largest expeller of methane (a greenhouse gas).
14. A cow can provide up to 200,000 glasses with milk during its life.
15. To produce 1 litre of milk, a cow must consume 2 litres of water.
16. A cow produces 115 pounds or 56 litres of manure per day.
17. An adult cow has only 8 teeth.
18. The first days of giving birth or having a baby can be aggressive.
19. As in humans, it may be the case that they have twins.
20. Cows can develop empathy and affection towards humans, as well as any pet.
Some negative points of cow
After googling for a long time, and researching I have cross some minor negative impacts of cows on humans. However, these impacts are not the sole responsibility of the cows. Such as:
1. It has been researched that cows milk can cause cancer. Why exactly is that? The dairy producers use the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is injected into the cow to produce more milk than it could give naturally.
This same increases the levels of another hormone called insulin growth factor (IGF-1), which is transferred to milk and is related to cancer of the prostate, breast and ovaries, according to data from the National Cancer Institute, published by the University from Oxford. So how exactly is cow responsible for causing cancer. Ultimately, it’s the humans are responsible for it. Right.
2. Cows are seriously responsible for climate change. Cows are endangering Earth’s climate. It happens that these animals generate a huge amount of methane gas and nitrous oxide in their peculiar digestive devices that are expelled through flatulence or belching.
Methane is a gas 20 times more harmful to global warming than CO2, mainly produced by burning fossil fuels. Yes, this is one of the harmful impacts but what about is. Aren’t we more responsible for pollution than cows?
3. Some have shown the negative effects of cows milk. Such as some say it causes allergies and asthma. Some say it cannot be consumed by the lactose intolerance. How is it cow’s fault that you are allergic or have asthma or you’re lactose intolerant.
Now, let’s weigh in the positive and negative aspect of the cow. Well, clearly the cow is much more useful and productive to us human than we human to cows. We are dangerous predators for them. But the cow is only useful in a million ways.
Yes, we could consider other animals or endangered species as the national animal. Such as lion or rhinoceros. They are also very important from the ecological point of view but they are not as much use as the cows.
So why there is so much fuss for making cow as the national animal. Let’s just not look at it from the religious or the community wise. But look at it scientifically, it just makes sense.
For all this, it is easy to conclude that the gods save the cows because they are sacred and because it is more beneficial to keep them alive. The reality is that the cows, often squalid, roam freely through the streets, on the steps of a temple or in the middle of the road. And can be found in the most unsuspected places, without anyone, however much can dare to disturb them.
I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a writer of 12 Nepali literature books, film director of Maithili film & Nepali short movies, photographer, founder of the media house, designer of some websites and writer & editor of some blogs, has expert knowledge & experiences of Nepalese society, culture, tourist places, travels, business, literature, movies, festivals, celebrations.