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Scientific NameBos taurus indicus
Common NameBull (male) / Cow (female), Gai (Hindi), Maddu (Tamil), Gau (Sanskrit)
DistributionThroughout India
Conservation StatusDomesticated
The celestial Kamadhenu

In religion and mythology

The cow / bull occupies a special place in Hindu culture. The reverence of the animal has been one of the central themes of Hinduism, since ancient times. The animal is equated to one's mother (hence the expression ‘ Gaumata' . In Hindu mythology, Kamadhenu , the wish-fulfilling celestial cow, is said to be the mother of all Gods. It is believed that she could grant any wish for the true seeker.

Lord Krishna with cow

Cow is most commonly associated with Lord Krishna, who is usually depicted as a cowherd. Lord Krishna is also known as Gopala , literally meaning “the protector of cows”. The cow is also associated with Lord Shiva, whose vahana (divine vehicle) is a white bull, Nandi . A statue of Nandi is usually seen facing the main shrine in every Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Mattu Pongal (the third day of the harvest festival ‘Pongal' in Tamilnadu) is the cattle thanksgiving. People decorate and worship their cattle on this day.

Nandi, the bull

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