Gaushalas or Goshalas are protective shelters for cows in India. Goshalas focus on treating cows well out of their religious significance in Hinduism and consequent cultural sensitivity towards their welfare.
Goshala, a Sanskrit word ("Go" means cow and "Shala" means a shelter place: Go + Shala = shelter for cows), means the abode or sanctuary for cows, calves and oxen. Apart from providing sanctuary, the Goshala also rescues the animals destined for illegal slaughter.
The first Gaurakshini sabha (cow protection society) was established in the 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.
United States of America
The USA'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).
Between 2014 and 2016 the Indian government spent 5.8 billion rupees (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. The state of Rajasthan has created a Ministry of Cow Affairs to advocate for an animal, which some critics say, has more rights than the country's two million homeless citizens.
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