Non Vedic go-seva

Syamasundara - July 1, 2006 12:09 pm

The other day I was discussing languages and dialects with my sister, as anyone who crosses my path is forced to do sooner or later, and she mentioned Furlan, which is actually a romance language spoken in Friuli, the alpine border area between Italy, Slovenia and Austria.

So she fished out a DVD about the people of that area and their lives.

It was spoken in Furlan and all centered on cow herding and the major yearly event of tranferring the herds from the "narrow world", as they call it, up to the wide open higher mountain slopes where the cows graze in the sun, and the herders make cheese.

It was fascinating to see so much love for cows and in such a religious context, too.

The documentary was structured as a lot of interviews to these locals; sometimes you'd see the interviewed speaking at a table, and sometimes you would just hear them and see scenes of what they were describing.

They all had a glitter in their eyes when they said how the cows know it the day before when it's time to do the "transumanza" (from Latin trans, across, and humus, earth).

"They're happy, the cows are just happy, they know."

The day before, they sprinkle the cows in the sheds with holy water, and on the actual day of departure they gather them all at the beginning of the path, they draw a cross on the dirt in front of them and off they go among happy moos, cow bells, smaller bells, dog barks. The kids, the cows, the adults, they all love it. It may take half a day to reach the sunnny pastures in the mountains.

They said you have to have a lot of passion to do that job. It's actually not the whole village that moves, even if everyone has at least a cow, but only a few families who can handle the whole move twice a year, and they take care of other people's cows, and then they share the cheese.

They have a name, but it's in this weird language.

Anyway, the most touching moment was when the interviewer asked them how many cows they had and if they knew each by name.

"Oh yes, of course, there is the Kelly, the Suzy, the Rosa, the Viola, the Polish, the Patched........." and these names were neverending, it almost brought tears to my eyes; it was the same tone of a parent who is asked how many kids they have and their names.

One of them said it's better to remember names than numbers, but the overall feeling was that they are members of the family.

"My father said 'don't ever beat a cow, they are better than people', so I carry the stick, but it's always under my arm."

Then they made cheese. They would curdle the milk and then cut it starting with a cross in the center of course.

"Your wife said she cries when it's time to go back down."

"SHE does? And what about me? We are all devasted the day before leaving these pastures."

They are not vegetarians, but they very rarely eat beef when they do.


Anyway it was really charming.





Syamasundara - July 2, 2006 8:57 pm

I forgot to say I got this quote on Galva shortly after.



"O saintly Uddhava, please know that you may worship Me in the sun,

fire, brahmanas, cows, Vaisnavas, sky, wind, water, earth, individual

soul and all living entities."


("Srimad Bhagavatam" 11.11.42)