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if someone were to ask me what the most important outward manifestation of hinduism was, i would suggest that it was the idea of cow protection.” - mahatma gandhi

although hindus follow no single set of rules, reverence for cows can be found throughout the religion’s major texts. some trace the cow’s sacred status back to lord krishna, who is said to have appeared 5,000 years ago as a cowherd, and is often described as bala gopala, “the child who protects the cows.” other scriptures identify the cow as the “mother” of all civilization, its milk nurturing the population.

photos from the gai tihar festival in the secular but hindu dominant state of nepal, where cow slaughter remains illegal and can carry a prison sentence of up to twelve years. they were taken by (click pic) niranjan shrestha, navesh chitrakar, prakash mathema, sunil sharma, binod joshi, and niranjan shrestha

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