Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From "Blue Dogs" to "Yellow Cows"

There is a somewhat famous poem written by a man named Frank Gellett Burgess entitled "The Purple Cow"......for your enjoyment I have included it below:

I've never seen a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one

I discovered the above poem while researching the origin of a phrase I grew up hearing in the US......"How now, brown cow?"

There are several opinions of the origin and meaning behind the phrase, so I have chosen the one's I liked the best to share with you :

The meaning and purpose of the phrase is to ensure proper diction and annunciation of the vowel sound "ow" since all of the words in the phrase end the same
.......this seems to make sense.

The term "Brown Cow" was a Scottish term given to a wooden barrell of beer around the year 1742......and of course when the keg was empty, the term "How now brown cow" was used to refer to ......"what are we going to do now that the beer is gone? Today it is used the same way to make fun and casual inquires as to "whats next on the agenda, etc"

So why the fixation, fascination and research into cows with colors?

Simply....... because India never ceases to amaze me and each time I discover something unique and interesting, I am compelled to delve into such activities to learn more about whatever I see.

So while I have never seen a purple cow, I can now say I have seen a yellow one............and not just one, I saw several,  while I made my car journey from Aurangabad to the city of Shirdi.

It seems that I found myself traveling during the festival of "Pola".

Pola is a bull worshiping festival celebrated mainly in the rural areas throughout the state of Maharashtra.

On the day of Pola, farmers decorate and worship their bulls, and the entire community typically participates in the festival with music and dancing. Usually, the oldest bull in the community leads a procession of all of the bulls by breaking through a rope of mango leaves stretched between two posts, and the bulls that follow are typically in order of the villagers with the highest social standing in the community. These celebrations typically take place in the evenings.


Pola takes place on the day of Pithori Amavasya (the new moon) in the month of Shravana (usually in August).

On this day, the bulls are first given a bath, and then they are rubbed with peanut oil and turmeric powder to give them that beautiful yellow color. Garlands of flowers are placed around their necks and their horns are also painted. Some have special hats that adorn their heads. Indian do not lack in creativity when it comes to decorations of any type.

The day following the festival, the bullocks return to the field to begin preparing the soil for the upcoming planting of the fall crops.

What a site!
We were driving approximately 80km per hour down this rural road when out of the corner of my eye, I first spotted these yellow wonders. I quickly asked for the driver to make a U turn and take me back so I could take some photographs.

Upon exiting the car, I met Sandeep..............who obviously did not speak any English. I began asking questions and was obviously getting nowhere....so I called for translation backup. Sandeep and his family had done an excellent job of coloring his bulls and stood out among the rest. While most of the decorations had been removed, they were still the most vividly colored. Upon closer look, I noticed a bracelet/anklet made of shells around the leg of only once cow........I asked if that was for some special reason and they stated that the others were decorated in a similar fashion, but that the bracelet had simple fallen off.

While I cannot be certain, it appeared to me that Sandeep and his mother were equally curious about me,  as I was with seeing (and wanting to photograph) yellow cows.

After leaving Sandeep, I saw several more colorful animals working in the fields with their owners or beside the road as if on display for passersby to admire.

Animals in India are worshiped for various reasons, so it is certainly understandable that the festival of POLA takes place here for such an important animal.

India is an agriculture based society, whereby almost 80% of the population in India make their living by farming.

Farming today in India is still largely non mechanized which means that farmers rely on animals to help them in their fields. Bullocks play a huge part in rural life here in India, not only in the fields but also as a means of transportation.

So why "Blue Dogs"?

I wanted readers of my blog, specifically readers from India to know that I come from an area of the United States that also has an animal of color........the "Blue Dog".

However, our animal is not real and only exists on canvas...................the creation  of an artist name George Rodrigue.

His paintings of the Blue Dog have become very famous and he has created paintings of the Blue Dog depicted in various scenes and situations......they are whimsical and fun, and I urge you to find out more about him. The Art of George Rodrigue

So I only found it appropriate to name the title of this blog accordingly........to celebrate two cultures and my journey moving from the land of the Blue Dog to the land of the Yellow Cow........Happy Pola 2012.

May God bless all animals in all shapes, species and color..............mythical, on canvas, or alive.



Anonymous said...

Those photos look like they were photoshopped! What a fascinating celebration and tradition!

Lloyd said...

They were not photoshopped.............they are the real deal......So I take it you haven't seen a yellow cow either?

shridhan said...

The photos are wonderfully taken. I used to celebrate Pola when we were near our countryside farm. Nowadays I only see photos of this on Facebook etc. posted by my cousins living there. Even though in a city, we rarely do try to visit our farms.

What is great about your posts is , these people are never on the internet, neither the sights. Indians hardly blog about such places and people, at least I have not seen. Recently, rural India has begun to apeear online.