Holy Cowed


Pongal Decorated Calf, Tiruvannamalai, South India

It’s the cows and the bulls…!

And this is the season in India when they are honored and given their due. After all without them many a field would go unplowed, many bricks, sand, and bags of rice would go undelivered, and the milk, the steady flow of it from all those udders! And of course dung for the fields and for fuel.

In the village, if you don’t have your own cow, daily milk is delivered by the milk man riding a bicycle or on a scooter, carrying the milk in cans and stopping wherever he is summoned to pour out one liter here, half a liter there. In India, not much would get done without a morning and afternoon drink of chai (milk tea). And there is no such thing as a chai without milk!

This past week the traditional Pongal celebrations took place in Tamil Nadu. It is four days set aside for a harvest thanksgiving and a time to visit friends and family. One day, called Cow Pongal honors the cows and the bulls. First they are washed, their horns painted, flower garlands placed around their necks and in some places a special ritual is performed by a priest in their honor.


Decorated White Bull, Pongal Celebration, South India

On this day, Ramanashram celebrates the yearly ritual inside a building where the cows are milked. During the time when the great sage Ramana Maharshi stayed at Ramanashram, he had a special fondness for a cow named Lakshmi. Her shrine can be seen at the back of the ashram and during Pongal, the stone cow statue is adorned with a silver-plated covering.


Lakshami Decorated for Pongal, Ramanashram, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Today’s Lakshmi and her calf stand inside the cowshed surrounded by other cows and devotees who crowd in to witness the ritual. Afterward Lakshmi and her baby receive loving caresses from several hands then are taken outside along with the other cows.


Lakshmi Adorned for Pongal, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Every day cows and bulls give so much in support of human life. At least on this day they are the focus of loving attention.


Calf and Loving Hands, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Soft-eyed cows, bountiful givers – reminders of the sacred essence in all forms. 


Ramana Maharshi with Lakshmi and Reflection, Tiruvannamalai, South India


About smallpebbles

A simple life unfolding moment by moment
This entry was posted in Devotion, India, Nature, Oneness, Peace, Photographs, Ramana Maharshi, Silence, Spirituality-Inner Life, Tiruvannamalai and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Holy Cowed

  1. pseudomonaz says:

    I loved the way they used to paint their horns when i was in bangalore. Is it a ritual or something? I don’t find horn painted bulls in the northern part of India. Great pictures by the way.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post and the lovely photos. Animals get too little credit in this world. I have always loved that India honors their cows… the cow energy is so nurturing. Thank you.

    • smallpebbles says:

      Namaste Sheilan, thanks for responding. I think I emailed you a response but not sure it worked. Yes, one of the gifts of India is how the animals are living on the streets, so there is much interaction with people. Today on my morning walk had lots of interactions with cows, dogs and monkeys……great! in peace…..kai

  3. marga t. says:

    Soft-eyed, bountiful givers – the beauty of the white bull adorned – breathtaking! Such a place we inhabit. Thank you,kai!

  4. inspire1life says:

    I’m so enjoying reading your blog. Thank you for the enlightening post. It’s truly touching how they honour them.

    • smallpebbles says:

      thanks for your sweet feedback…..yes, the cows have a special status in India, but not always an easy life. most of them seem to have gentle spirits. Ramana Maharshi said the cow Lakshmi had awakened, that is why there is a shrine in her honor. shanti….kai

  5. Jayashri Fairclough says:

    I LOVE this post!!!!!!!!!!! Super photos and great stories.

  6. Simi K. Rao says:

    Thank you for the lovely pictures and write up.

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