Gaushalas or Goshalas (Hindi: गौशाला, romanized: gauśālā) are protective shelters for cows in India. Goshalas focus on treating cows well, because of their religious significance in Hinduism and consequent cultural sensitivity towards their welfare.
The first Gaurakshini sabha (cow protection society) was established in Punjab in 1882. The movement spread rapidly all over North India and to Bengal, Bombay, Madras presidencies and other central provinces. The organization rescued wandering cows and reclaimed them to groom them in places called gaushalas. Charitable networks developed all through North India to collect rice from individuals, pool the contributions, and re-sell them to fund the gaushalas. Signatures, up to 350,000 in some places, were collected to demand a ban on cow sacrifice. Between 1880 and 1893, hundreds of gaushalas were opened. Today, Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh coordinates these activities in the Punjab.
United States of America
The United States's first Goshala started at Gita Nagari Farm and Sanctuary, located in Port Royal, Pennsylvania. Another major Goshala is operating in Florida under the name International Society for Cow Protection (ISCOWP). In 2005, students from the University of Memphis, Tennessee established a non-profit organization to protect pure-breed cows imported from India. Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary is located in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. There is a cow protection farm in New Talavana, Mississippi. A goshala in Arizona was established on April 7, 2010, in Maricopa, and later moved to San Tan Valley from February 1, 2012.
Between 2014 and 2016 the Indian government spent ₹5.8 billion (US$87 million) on cow shelters.
To prevent unproductive cows being sent to the abattoir, the government started the Rashtriya Gokul Mission in mid-2014, a national program that involves constructing havens for retired cows. Proceeds from the animals' bodily waste are intended to pay for their upkeep. In May 2016, the Indian national government held an inaugural national conference on goshalas.
Other Sources of Income
Donations and tourist events are often important to support the goshalas. For this reason some goshalas are even linked to their own Ashram, offering Yoga and music lessons. The offers of smaller enterprises may include workshops, visits and even retreats, aiming at tourists, interested in spiritualiy, alternative medicine etc.
- Cow protection movement, India
- Cattle slaughter in India
- Cattle in religion
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