Cows With Dignity: Revenge of the Bhains

Posted on December 7, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Society
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Adil Najam

Some people seem to find this video funny. I find it sad and slightly sickening.

The video shows a bunch of men from a neighborhood mohalla ogling at and sometimes provoking a frightened cow. In the process, the poor animal lashes out and kicks violently at various people who try to ‘control’ it. The tamashbeen seem to find this funny and, purposely or inadvertently, their reaction further instigates the frightened animal.

Frankly, what we see in this video is far from the spirit of sacrifice that the Eid qurabni is supposed to be about. I had first posted this here two years ago. My comment then, I believe, is still pertinent.

It is easy to focus on the antics of the cow, but I would urge you to pay more careful attention to the people in the video and especially to the comments of the person who is making the video and his companion.

That is the sad part. But not for some of the foul language that creeps in. What is sad is the joyous glee and excitement people seem to be expressing not only at the misery of the cow but also of those who are being kicked and hurled by the cow. It is not just that they are oblivious to the welfare of the poor animal; it is also that they seem genuinely excited (even happy) that someone got violently kicked by the frightened beast. [Some time ago] we did a related post on how people fail to react to the misery of others (in that case someone supposedly slapping a woman as a prelude to stealing from her). In this case its not just that they don’t rush out to help someone in obvious pain, it is that they seem to find that pain funny (this relates to a different discussion we had on why people ‘enjoy’ self-destructive behavior by others).

… It makes me think of the inhumane treatment we met out to the animals that are supposedly going to help us become better humans. Unlike Arab society 1400 years ago, where livestock was a prime unit of currency and commercial exchange (and, hence, of sacrifice) and where most people would have been well aware how to deal with and treat these prized possessions, most people (at least in urban Pakistan) have no experience or idea about how to treat any animal and one often seen purposeful and inadvertent cruelty inflicted on these animals, which are treated as a source of novelty rather than as living creatures worthy of our respect.

As I watch this video, it seems to me that the only one who comes out of this video with its dignity intact is the cow. I, for one, am rooting for the cow.

Speaking of cows with dignity, the bhains video we had posted last Eid was more docile but equally thought-provoking.

The comment I had made then is, I think, also still pertinent. This, too, I think is far far away from the spirit of sacrifice that this Eid is supposed to represent:

This is a Geo News report from Bakra Mandi, Walton, Lahore. Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. 1,000,000), Rs. 6 lakh (Rs. 600,000) for a cow and the bargaining goes on. “Babar” is a fine specimen for sure – weighing 35 mun, 4 year old, and drinking 10 kilo milk and eating 1o kilo of fodder a day it is being offered for Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. one million).

Is this a story about inflation? Or is it about showing off? And how does it connect with the spirit of sacrifice and sharing that the qurbani is supposed to be about? If the purpose of qurbani is sacrifice and helping the poor might it not be better to just take that money and distribute to the really needed who might find the case more helpful than a fine piece of steak? I understand the importance of ritual in any social and belief system. But the spirit of the ritual should count for more than its mechanics. No?

17 responses to “Cows With Dignity: Revenge of the Bhains

  1. Rasheed says:

    “Rabb Kaa Shukr Adaa Kar Bhai
    Jiss Nay Hamaaree Gaae Banaaee”


    This video from Pakistan is a depressing, but I soon remembered another, much more disturbing, video from the United States, where abuse and torture of cows was documented at the Westland Hallmark meat packing plant at Chino, California earlier this year. The video was prepared by undercover investigators from the Humane Society, and it shows torture of the animals in order to force them to stand up to pass inspection for the slaughter house. According to the Humane Society, several other similar cases in the U.S. were documented by their undercover cameras.

    The USDA has banned the slaughter of downer cows because, among other things, they might be suffering from BSE, the so-called Mad Cow Disease.

    But the discovery of the Chino plant might have come too late for several children – the meat from the plant was being supplied to school programs since 2006.

    Check out the video at: ient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADBF_enUS219US219&q=video+che ap+meat&oe=UTF-8&um=1&sa=N&tab=wv&oi=property_sugg estions&resnum=0&ct=property-revision&cd=1#

    Or just Google “video cheap meat” and you’ll get the link.

    After the revelation of the first US case of mad cow disease, many countries immediately announced a ban on the import of US beef. I’m not sure if Pakistan was among them. A few months ago, US secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice visited South Korea and was reportedly going there to urge them to lift the ban, since the US considered its beef safe again.

    The public in South Korea, a US ally like Pakistan, responded by taking to the streets in massive numbers protesting any decision to resume the import of US beef. The protests drew hundreds of thousands of ppl who stayed in vigil day and night. Check it out on youtube or google video. Does anyone know if Pakistan imports US beef or gets it in the form of US food aid?

  2. bilal khan says:

    some people do not know how to sacrifice they should hire some butchers to avoid things like this n we should not make such things entertainment all World watch us on this doing this we have make our own joke.

  3. Jabbar says:

    This is a very sad video to see

    Unfortunately such cruelty to animals is too common

  4. Ghazala Khan says:

    A good reminder on the Eid, Adil.

    Eid Mubarak to ATP from TPS.


  5. Hi,

    I follow this blog with great interest and read comments by the readers. I like the way the harsh realities of life are compensated with good stories full of humour and light touch. It has been a while when I started reading this blog but have never commented but this blog has given me inspiration to start my own about Pakistan related stories. I do it because comparing Pakistani presence on the web with the Indian one is not a pretty sight as numbers are hugely disproportionate in India

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