holy animals

When I was in India last year I really enjoyed Indian cuisine. It is mainly vegetarian, but they also make delicious meat based meals, all of them consisting of small chops of meat cooked and served in diverse thick sauces, sometimes very spicey. You can eat it with rice or with Indian bread, a crêpe-like pastry. The meals offered were mainly of chicken meat, but also of goat, fish, and pig. No cows, of course.

During one lunch I praised to my hosts the meal I was eating. Content to hear it they hurried to explain me that I will not find cow meat in Indian menus: “We Hindu do not eat cows, you know. Cow is our holy animal.” I knew it – who doesn’t? – but I just nodded politely. Then it occurred to me that Muslims do not eat pigs: “And your neighbours, Muslims…? Isn’t it so that they do not eat pigs?” – “Right”, my host nodded in approval, “in their religion the pig is holy animal!”

Now that was not the way I knew about it! Pig is supposed to be a dirty animal in Islam, and therefore prohibited. I have never heard that it was regarded as a holy animal. Nevertheless I was not in the mood of correcting my kind host in theological matters, so I just said what was obvious: “So it means that you are eating their Holy Animal, and they are eating yours, right?” – “Well, yes…” he answered reluctantly, with an unsure expression: “now when you put it that way, yes… we eat holy animals of one another.”

For the rest of the lunch no more words were spoken.

Holy animals

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