Kavadi – the unseen side

There were Thaipusam celebrations on the island of Mauritius yesterday in (not only) the Tamil community, it’s a public holiday and a major religious event. Every kavadi or paalkoddam/paal kavadi carried piously on shoulders and heads who surely don’t know better, are not figurative burdens but real blood, sweat and tears. (En français)

Le lait

They are the blood of new-born calves (kept away from their mother, practically starved, killed and sold as veal meat on a parallel market), the sweat and tears of their grieving mother who has been raped again and again all her life for all she stands for – a milk machine. Bulls are routinely raped for her artificial insemination. Industries have ‘rape racks’ and purchase ‘rape kits’ for these ‘procedures’ of forceful impregnation or forceful semem collecting, using confined animals treated with neither respect nor pity. This is likely to be not only in Australia or countries from which we import milk (and where video footage has been made), but in your local dairy farms and the animals are discarded in any way deemed convenient by farmers when they are too old, e.g. for pet food. I don’t know what percentage of old cows are rescued by the only sanctuary I know there is, in Moka.

Promoting the consumption of, and consuming, milk or dairy entails stealing milk meant for calves, sending male ones to be killed for veal and suede, or to be reared for beef; as the female calves grow up to become milk providers. This would happen even if Mauritius had pastures (at the expense of its wild animals and/or instead of schools/malls/golf courses, or farmers would have to consider exploiting giraffes for milk) and bovine animals roamed around and propagated their genes freely. Later old cows would be turned into leather; even India is a big exporter of bovine leather and transports cows to certain states where killing them is allowed, footage seen in documentary (freely available to anyone with internet access, there was also a free public documentary screening in Mauritius years ago). It is not surprising how these issues can be ignored, we can look to our own lack of knowledge around such issues or to our indifference, which also harm poor human workers who work in the leather industry handling toxic chemicals.

There is a scientific explanation for eating habits most Kavadi devotees have outside of fasts but also for those within fasts. Humans are not natural necrovores but are addicted to natural chemicals in meat and it can be hard to quit the habit but harder perhaps to quit caso-morphines, the naturally-occuring drug in milk that is more concentrated in yoghurt, buttermilk and paneer. There are chemicals present in milk usually aside from pus and blood (and estrogen which harms women’s health as well as men’s), such as antibiotics and even morphine in trace amounts according to research papers. It can be hard to stop the addiction to casomorphines during 3 weeks, before the cravings and withdrawal symptoms cease. There may be ‘traditional’ explanations that were invented for modern exploitation (as the caste system was invented for human exploitation) but there is no moral explanation for it, least of all in times where we know it is not necessary but harmful to human health. Milk is a drug besides being a product of cruelty, and it is being directly promoted by and in religious celebrations.

It’s easy to make milk from nuts or coconut, and to make yoghurts and cheeses (see next blog post). Surely making these would be in line with what Tamils claim the fast entails. Not only those who have carried a kavadi or paalkoddam but all those with any indian heritage have those traditional copper containers. If one pours in soy, almond or coconut milk and the contents of 4 acidophilus capsules for each litre, leaving it covered in the sun all day, would produce soy, almond or coconut yoghurt, even if you’re not in Port-Louis or Australia. Behind a closed window or somewhere sunny but sheltered from the breeze would keep it warm. Solgar acidophilus capsules are perfect for this, available at Nature Verte, 3 locations now. Make it in stainless steel? I bought a glass jar from PicknPay and it got extremely rusty within a month, old recycled jars last. Here people would rather buy dairy yoghurt from cruel businesses than have free homemade plantghurt from homemade milk, seemingly. The hypocrisy astounds me.

Some photos and background story on Kavadee, I didn’t hear of anyone having vegan fasts – the page is mistaken to generalise this.

Cruelty is a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions. If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, it protests against cruelty, is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us— in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank. ~ Rabindranath Tagore

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