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Holy cattle at the Megha Mela Editorial Stock Image

Holy cattle on the beach near Konark. Konark is a small town in Puri district in the state of Orissa, India, on the Bay of Bengal, 65 kilometers from Bhubaneswar. The Megha Mela of Konark is an event that draws thousands of pilgrims to this holy town of Orissa. The Megha Mela is held on the 7th day of Magha (the bright half of the month, January-February) and can indeed be described as a mass convergence of pilgrims from all over. A trip to the Megha Mela in Konark, Orissa starts with a dip in the waters of Chandrabhaga Teertha. Devotees can be seen performing this ritual in huge numbers and welcoming the rising sun with fervent prayers. The hum of prayers simply rises to a crescendo as more and more devotees join the congregation to welcome the rising sun. Cattle are considered sacred in various world religions, most notably Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism. The cow has been a symbol of wealth since ancient Vedic times. Hinduism is based on the concept of omnipresence of the Divine, and the presence of a soul in all creatures, including bovines. Thus, by that definition, killing any animal would be a sin: one would be obstructing the natural cycle of birth and death of that creature, and the creature would have to be reborn in that same form because of its unnatural death. Historically, even Krishna, one of the most revered forms of the Divine, tended cows.

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