Agra: Cows worshipped on ‘Gopashtami’ in Braj Mandal. Cows were worshipped and fed various types of delicacies to celebrate Gopashtami in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra and Mathura districts in a series of programmes held by voluntary organisations. Cows worshipped on ‘Gopashtami’ in Braj Mandal. Recognizing the valuable contribution of the cow-wealth, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government has launched a number of schemes to support the rural economy. Cow-dung manure was being produced at more than 1,000 centres in the state and more than five lakh cows have been provided shelter at the state government-run centres. The district administrations have tagged nearly a crore cows for identification in the state, according to an Animal Husbandry Department official.
In Agra, the Girraj Sewa Mandal organised a special programme to feed and worship scores of cows at the Balkeshwar Gaushala. The devotees prayed to the cows (Gaumata) to free India from the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Friends of Vrindavan’ Convener, Jagan Nath Poddar, said Mathura district was declared “Gau Kshetra” by the former Divisional Commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar but no follow-up action was taken. The ‘Cow-Economics’ is now being recognised as a pragmatic model of rural development and a number of schemes are being implemented in the district having more than 100 Gaushalas. Barsana’s Gaushala run by patron saint Ramesh Baba is the biggest cowshed with more than 50,000 cows.
In Radha Kund, 60-year-old German woman Padamshri Sudevi runs a Gaushala with more than 1,600 injured and sick cows. Sudevi wants farmers to augment their incomes by keeping a few cows. “The government should buy back the cow dung to make it attractive for farmers to keep cows,” she said.
The pastoral culture of the Braj Mandal is closely related to cow-keeping. “On Gopashtmi, a festival being celebrated today, Sri Krishna was initiated into cattle grazing as a Gwala. “All over the Braj area, cows are worshipped and offered food today acknowledging their contribution to the agrarian economy,” said River Activist Dr. Panchsheel Sharma.
Steps have been initiated to free cattle grazing pastures in the twin holy towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, and encroachments demolished on the Yamuna river bed to develop more grazing grounds for the cattle.
Since excessive use of chemical fertilisers was only causing a lot of health problems and robbing the farmland of its fertility, the use of cow dung manure and compost or vermicompost could help promote organic farming in a big way.
“The identity of Braj is known from its forests and cows which were both under threat,” says eminent spiritual leader of Vrindavan Goswami, Sri Vats. Tradition had to be integrated with modern techniques and new solutions explored to face challenges of development, he added.
“Organic farming is the way to look ahead and to sustain it we need cattle wealth. The Braj area has many gaushalas and the number of cows exceeds a lakh. The cow dung collected can promote gobar gas, enrich the soil, and reduce dependence on chemical fertilisers, said Rural Development Specialist Shravan Kumar Singh.