• hitting a cow in india

This is India! (fourteen)

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • I shared my top 3 India destinations with Empty Rucksack Journeyers. If you’re ever looking for more blogs about India to follow I really love theirs- they give great tips about renting bikes up north and also give such detailed information on everything from budget breakdowns to food.

Now your story,

In India cows are sacred. Most people know that. I actually wrote a post about how much I love cows, even though in Varanasi one head-butted me and ripped my pants open with his horn.

hitting a cow in india

It’s a complicated relationship that Indians and cows have: they love them, yet let them eat plastic or starve. They know they are holy, but they have gambling cow fights in the fields in Goa…?

It’s in many guidebooks that if you’re driver accidental hits one of the many cows that walk in the middle of the roads, that you should try to get far away from the chaos.

funny cows in india

The U.S. State Department website literally says you should leave the scene so that you aren’t caught up in a riot. I mean they made it sound like cows trump people, which on the road- they do.

Well, I was driving in Calangute and the car (a massive Mahindra jeep full of drunk guys) hit a cow. EVERYONE saw. The cow could still walk and got to the side of the road.

No one did anything. No one checked if the cow was okay, or reprimanded the drunk drivers… Life just went on. So it was the first time seeing this happen and since I’ve actually seen it happen one other time and no one reacted. I guess it’s a little shocking to me how they can be so revered but so ignored at the same time. I also wonder, if it was a foreigner that hit the cow- would they ignore it or cause a scene. What do you think?

This is India!


FYI if you see an animal that is hurt in Goa, please call International Animal Rescue at +91 832 226 8328

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Justine September 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    That’s so weird, especially considering with your headbutting incident the people at your guesthouse kinda blamed you for the headbutting. It seemed like the cow got way more respect than you! I kind of think that if a foreigner were to hit a cow that people would get pretty angry. But who knows? I am really surprised that people didn’t make a big deal out of it!

    • Rachel Jones September 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      Such a good point! Maybe because the headbutting happened in holy Varanasi, while in Goa its a bit more party and fun (less religious).

  2. Franca September 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Oh no! Poor cow :( I’ve never been to India myself so I’m not as familiar as you are with its tradition and customs, I’m not sure what it would have happened if a foreigner hit the cow, do you think it would have been a big deal?
    Do you know if the cow made it at the end?

    • Rachel Jones September 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      I think it would have been made a big deal and a huge police bribe would have to be paid!

  3. Silvia September 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Whoa! When I studied abroad in India one of the first things they told us was to flee the scene if we saw a cow get hit. Maybe it’s just a big conspiracy to make foreigners freak out? Haha. Though you (and the cow) were probably really lucky that everyone was ok!

    • Rachel Jones September 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      Haha yeah a crazy conspiracy! wouldn’t that be something. :)

  4. Emily September 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    I’m really looking forward to seeing how cows and society meld in India – it’s something I can’t quite wrap my head around.

  5. Joella in Beijing September 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    So strange that it was so different! I do wonder what would happen if it was a foreigner..in China foreigners often get different treatment (sometimes better and sometimes worse!). But I don’t suggest running over a cow to find out.. :-o

    • Rachel Jones September 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      I would say most times foreigners here get worse treatment! Truly. And I think if a westerner did it they would be forced to pay a HUGE fine to the police or even hit with bamboo sticks!

  6. Michael Huxley September 5, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    What a sad story! I really feel for the cow. It is such a strange paradox about India, as you say they so revere cows but at the same time think absolutely nothing of neglecting them. I just don’t get it. I suppose as a non local I never will.

    Another excellent post. I love this series, seriously! (But really, blaming the cow because you got your backside out? That’s low!) ;D

    • Rachel Jones September 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Yeah, I think the cow was okay but I have seen lots of these cow fights with locals betting.. not cool!

  7. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown September 5, 2014 at 11:49 pm - Reply

    Oh my gosh!! Hopefully the cow turned out all right. Poor thing.

    • Rachel Jones September 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Yes, he looked like he was going to be fine! He was a big one.

  8. Hidden in a Book September 6, 2014 at 1:30 am - Reply

    It really would be interesting to see what would have happened had it been a foreigner…

  9. Varun September 6, 2014 at 2:16 am - Reply

    You’re in GOA ! In some other parts of the country, it wouldn’t be so chill.

  10. Anurag September 6, 2014 at 9:11 am - Reply

    :) i can explain this anomaly. A lot of Indians also *hate* the street cows (yup .. Me included). But you are right, some Indians would revere them. This ratio of haters to lovers varies in locations. Near the temples, you’d find a lot of folks who consider cows as holy. Never kick a cow near a temple (I’ve done it and some dude got extremely angry with me). You can however look down on them cows in an urban area where you’ll hopefully find more haters. They are a nuisance and I hope their holiness scale is brought down a notch! :)

  11. Empty Rucksack September 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    there are so many people who are not cared about, so no one will care to think about cows, The whole religious this is more ritualistic now, not like the old times.

  12. Kelsie Colson September 6, 2014 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    I love your “This is India!” series! I think reading these crazy anecdotes will help reduce the culture shock when I finally make my way to India.

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      I hadn’t thought of it like that but that would be great if it helped people!

  13. Andrea Anastasiou September 7, 2014 at 8:36 am - Reply

    My boyfriend (who’s Indian) says that it’s not actually that much of a big deal in the north where he’s from…even I was surprised!

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Yeah it’s very shocking, but then nothing should shock me here now!

  14. venus john September 8, 2014 at 12:55 am - Reply

    in goa,its a bit different..as 30 percent of the population is Christian and eat beef..so the cow is not so holy..in Bombay..the cows are holier..but they still eat plastic.. I have not seen a cow get hit by a vehicle here..

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      That’s a very good point , thanks for the insight!

  15. Alex, Speaking Denglish September 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    I’ve been talking with the cook in our kitchen at work who is Indian and has the craziest stories from India and I always tell him about your blog and pass these stories on and he’s like yep, normal :) Just wild for me!

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