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Celebrate Holi with Gau Mata

Holi, the festival of colours, is one of the most vibrant and celebrated festivals in India. It marks the arrival of spring. However, amidst all the revelry and fun, we often forget about the harmful effects of Holi on the environment and animals, particularly cows. 

Cows are considered sacred in Hindu culture and are revered as a symbol of purity and divinity. However, during Holi, these gentle creatures are subjected to harsh treatment that can cause significant harm to their health and well-being. 

  • Synthetic colours are the biggest culprit when it comes to the harmful effects of Holi on cows. These colours are made from a cocktail of chemicals and can cause severe skin irritation, leading to rashes, blisters, and even bleeding. Dry colours contain a range of metal oxides and mercury sulphate, which induce skin allergies.  Cows have sensitive skin, and the chemicals in these colours can cause long-term health problems, including infections. The skin of cows is also more prone to sunburn, making them more vulnerable to the harsh effects of these colours.
    • The chemicals present in synthetic colours can also cause respiratory problems for cows. When cows graze in open fields, the leftover colours from Holi celebrations can become airborne, and the cows can inhale them. This can cause significant respiratory distress, leading to coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory problems. These colours on inhalation can also cause lung infections
    • Ingestion of colours is another major issue for cows during Holi celebrations. Cows graze in fields and consume grass, which is often contaminated with colours left over from Holi. The ingestion of these colours can cause stomach problems, such as allergies, intestinal erosions, diarrhoea and vomiting, which can be life-threatening for cows if left untreated. If any of the signs are observed, consult a veterinarian immediately. You can also take the colour that has caused such problems for your cows, that will help your vet to take appropriate remedial action. The presence of lead in these colours can act as a poison for your animal.
    • Cows often get hit by water balloons. These balloons are filled with harmful colours. These synthetic colours and dyes are harmful to eyes and can lead to permanent loss of eyesight. If any coloured water gets into their eyes or ears, it can cause severe infections that usually take a long time to heal and can lead to blindness.
    • Apart from the use of synthetic colours, cows are also exposed to other dangers during Holi celebrations. Loud music, firecrackers, and other forms of noise pollution can cause immense stress to cows, leading to anxiety, discomfort, and panic. This can also cause cows to stampede, resulting in injuries or even death. One should take steps to take care of your animal and look out for their safety. These steps may include avoiding stranger contact with your cow and taking measures to soothe their anxiety.
    • Physical abuse: In some parts of India, people throw water balloons or hit cows with sticks and other objects during Holi just for fun, which can cause physical injuries and trauma to the animals.
    • Another issue during Holi is the disposal of waste materials such as chocolates, sweets, rubber residues from water balloons, plastics and other non-biodegradable materials. You need to be extra careful with such things if you have a cow. Therefore, it is important to stay vigilant for your cow’s actions to avoid any complications that may result due to ingestion of such things.  These materials can be ingested by cows, leading to digestive problems and other health issues.One should also pay attention to the behaviour of your animal. Look out for their reaction whether they look stressed, anxious or calm because when an animal is threatened, they tend to act out. If there are any behavioural changes in the animal you should immediately contact a doctor.
    • Another way in which cows are affected by Holi is through the disruption of their normal routines and feeding habits. During the festival, many cows are taken out of their usual grazing areas and brought into the city or town to participate in the festivities. This can be a stressful experience for the cows, as they may be unfamiliar with their surroundings and may not have access to their usual sources of food and water. This can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and other health problems.
    • Feeding cows sweets like Gujiyas and laddoos etc. Can have harmful effects on their health. One of the primary concerns with feeding them sweets is the impact it can have on their digestive system. Cows are ruminants, which means they have a complex digestive system that is designed to break down tough fibres and plant matter. When cows consume too much sweets, it can upset the balance of bacteria in their digestive system, leading to a condition called acidosis. Acidosis occurs when there is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the cow’s stomach, which produces excess acid that can damage the lining of the stomach and lead to inflammation and other health issues. Symptoms of acidosis include diarrhoea, bloating, and a reduced appetite, which can lead to weight loss and decreased milk production.
    • Another issue with feeding sweets to cows is that it can cause tooth decay. Cows have a similar dental structure to humans, with molars in the back of their mouths and incisors in the front. Just like with humans, consuming sugary foods can lead to tooth decay in cows, which can cause pain and other dental problems.
  • Celebrating Holi with cows is a beautiful way to honour the sacred animal and deepen your spiritual connection with nature. It is also a great way to spread awareness about the importance of animal welfare and the need to treat animals with love and compassion.

It is our responsibility to celebrate Holi responsibly and ensure that we do not cause any harm to animals, particularly cows. Here are some steps by which we can celebrate Holi with cows and prevent the harmful effects of Holi on cows:

  • Celebrating Holi with cows is a beautiful and spiritual experience. You can visit a cow shelter or dairy farm that takes care of cows and feed them vegetables and cow food. Cows are sensitive animals, so it is important to treat them with love and respect. After you have spent time with the cows, you can offer them prayers and seek their blessings.
  • No colour can be organic. Colours can only be organic when they are plant-based extracts. Mostly colours that are available in the market are made of chemicals, using charcoal or chalk-based agents, Hence avoid to apply tika on animals. Use natural and organic colours made from flowers, herbs, and other natural ingredients. These colours are eco-friendly and free of harsh chemicals. Using these colours also supports local artisans who make them, contributing to the local economy. One can also use turmeric or turmeric water to colour your animals instead of chemical laden colours.
  • Use only pet friendly shampoos to remove the colour and dirt stains from the skin, never use toxic kerosene, hair oil or alcohol as it may lead to skin problems.
  • Avoid loud noises and music during Holi celebrations. Instead, we can celebrate the festival with peaceful and quiet gatherings, which can be equally enjoyable.
  • Keep cows’ safety in mind while celebrating Holi. We should ensure that we do not throw colours on cows or spray water on them, as this can cause significant distress to the animals. We should also ensure that we do not indulge in any activities that can cause harm to cows.
  • Children are most excited at the sight of colours to avoid their excitement causing distress to animals teach them respect and kindness towards animals explain them that animals can be easily frightened and help them learn that their fun should not be unfair to animals. Teach children not to throw colours and water balloons at animals.
  • While it may seem like a kind gesture to feed cows sweets such as gujiyas and laddoos, it is important to remember that their digestive system is not designed to handle sugary foods. Feeding cows sweets can have harmful effects on their health, so do not feed cows with sweets.
  • Avoid offering alcoholic beverages and bhang to your cows during Holi celebrations as it can be extremely dangerous for your animal and may cause death.
  • Try to keep your animal in their secure place so that they can feel comfortable and unnecessary colouring of the animal can be prevented.
  • Keep an eye on the cows. Loose stool, behavioural change are some of the clear symptoms of colour poisoning, if these symptoms arises, contact veterinarian as soon as possible and start the treatment.
  • Educate others about the harmful effects of Holi on cows and encourage them to celebrate the festival responsibly. Put notices to remind the harmful effect of Holi on animals.

Cows are not the only animals that need to be protected and cared for. Especially take care of street animals that are very likely to get hurt in the hustle-bustle of festivities. Shelter them, give them healthy food so they do not eat trash, and protect them from people trying to hurt them. If an animal eye is affected by colour or powder, quickly flush eyes with clean water. If irritation persists, consult a veterinarian for proper medical treatment.

Animals on street drink water off different water sources as taps or puddles. Do ensure that you provide a bowl of clean water for them so that they do not drink water that has colours or paints in it. 

As much as we love to play Holi and forget our worries during the festival of colours, when it comes to our animals, protecting them from all the festive madness, artificial colours, and of course sweet treats should be one of the top priorities for the owners.

Despite these negative effects, there are also ways in which Holi can have a positive impact on cows. For example, during the festival, many people offer food and other treats to cows as a form of worship and respect. This can help to supplement the cows’ usual diet and provide them with essential nutrients and vitamins. Additionally, some people use natural dyes and colours during Holi, which are less harmful to cows and other animals.

In conclusion, Holi is a time for joy and celebration, but it is also essential to be mindful of the harmful effects of our actions on the environment and animals, particularly cows. As responsible citizens, we must celebrate the festival responsibly, ensuring that we do not cause harm to any living beings. We must respect and care for cows, ensuring that they are protected during Holi and all year round. By using natural colours, avoiding loud noises, and educating others, we can make Holi a truly inclusive and joyful festival for everyone.

Wish you all a very happy and colourful Holi.

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