COW DUNG AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

                                                                                                                     Dr. Tanusree Sarker

                                                                                                                Women’s College, Tinsukia

“RELIGION MEANS-REALIZATION-TO BE REAL IN NATURE”

INTRODUCTION:   Growth of human population coupled with high standard of living through technological advancement has resulted in widespread degradation of environment at the global level. Environment belongs to all and is thus important for all. We all are affected by environment and environment is also affected by our deeds. A large number of acts and legislations nationally and internationally have failed to save the environment from degradation. The reason lies in the lack of awareness. Scientific inventions have made our lives easy and comfortable but at the same time we are going away from the traditional beliefs supported by religion.

Cow is regarded as a Goddess in the Hindu scriptures and centre of all Hindu deities and gods. Before any religious function, the place is purified with cow dung. Women, in Indian villages smear the main door of their houses with cow dung. It is believed that this act leads ‘LAKSHMI’ (the goddess of wealth) to reside in their houses. Whatever the religious belief behind the use of cow dung, but it is proved by different experts in all over the world that cow dung protects our environment from pollutions. Use of ‘gobar gas’ and cow dung cakes as fuel in rural areas reduces peoples’ need for firewood and save the forest to a great extent. Cow dung is a very good disinfectant. The smoke of cow dung cake has a purifactory effect on the environment. Use of cow dung as manure in agricultural field not only protects our environment but also protects human health from harmful effect of chemical fertilizer. This paper makes a modest attempt to highlight the multiple use of cow dung for the protection of environment. It also analyses those religious principles, related to the use of cow dung for the protection of human environment.

OBJECTIVES:

  1. Present paper is an attempt to highlight the multiple use of cow dung to save our environment from being polluted and to maintain a balance in the ecology.
  2. Attempt to establish the link between the traditional beliefs and scientific inventions for the betterment of human civilization.

COW DUNG- COMPONENTS:

  Cow dung, also known as cow pats, pies or manure is the waste product and undigested residue of plant matter which passes through cow’s gut. Cow dung is composed of organic matter including fibrous material that passes through cow’s digestive system. Exact chemical composition is mostly carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous etc. with salt, some urea, cellulose and lignin, hemi cellulose. Its colour ranges from greenish to blackish and darkens after exposure to air.

USES OF COW DUNG:

  • AS MANURE

 Cow dung is often used as manure and cow manure is consisting of 3% nitrogen, 2% phosphorous and 1% potassium that mixing with the soil improves the moisture holding capacity of the soil. As a result, the roots of the plants can use additional water and nutrients whenever needed. Cow manure fertilizer in all forms is a good addition to the vegetable garden. 

  • AS FUEL

In rural India and many parts of developing world, cow dung cake is used as fuel. Cow dung can be used as an important resource to use to supplement organic matters and improve soil condition. It has been estimated that an average size of cattle produces 4-6 tonnes of fresh dung every year. In India, and other Asian nations a significant fraction of cow dung is used as cooking and heating fuel after making its bricks.

  • AS BIOGAS

Cow dung is also used to produce biogas to generate electricity and heat. The gas is rich in methane (CH4) which is one of the major components of natural gas and easily combustible energy source. Hence, it is used in many parts of India and Pakistan to provide renewable and stable source of electricity. In the last few years, the Government of India has promoted biogas production at individual and community levels using cow dung and other wastes. Biogas is used as cooking and heating fuel in many parts. During this process cow dung is converted into slurry which is again good quality manure and can be applied in agricultural field as soil conditioner. On the other hand, production of biogas by cow dung is a cheap alternative source of energy that can be used for fuel, cooking and producing electricity.

  • AS MOSQUITO REPELLENT

Cow dung is used as mosquito repellent also. The chemical based mosquito repellents have some harmful and poisonous chemical that caused harms to human health. But a mosquito repellent prepared from cow dung mixing with other herbal materials free from any kind of side effects on inhalation.

  • AS INSULATOR

 In few villages in central Africa, cow dung is burnt inside the house to repel mosquitoes. In earlier times in rural India, cow dung was used to line the walls of houses as a cheap thermal insulator. Cow dung coating in the walls of the houses prevent the dwellers from too heat and too cold.

  • AS FOOD CHAIN

Cow dung provides food for a wide range of animals and fungus species, which break it down and recycle it into the food chain and into the soil. Cattle have a natural aversion to feeding around their own dung. This can lead to the formation of taller unorganized patches of heavily fertilized sward. These habitat patches termed ‘islets’ can be beneficial for many grasslands arthropods including spider and bugs that have an important function to maintain biodiversity and ecological balance.

  • AS WATER HOLDING CARRIER

Cow dung acts as water holding carriers and increases the porosity of soil if the soil is sandy or porous or not retaining the water. Cow dung also increases the geo technical properties like bulk density, dry density, and water holding capacity, porosity, infiltration etc. on soil. By using cow dung soil gets more nitrogen and increases the fertility status of the soil. Thus, increases the growth of plants and sustain productivity.

  • AS SOURCE OF ENERGY

Cow dung is a new source of energy for gasoline in energy poor Japan. A team of scientists in Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology had successfully extracted 1.4 millilitres of gasoline from every 100gms of cow dung by applying high pressure and heat. Japanese scientists were also successful to extract an aromatic ingredient known as ‘vanilla’ from cow dung that can be used as fragrance in shampoo and candles.

COW DUNG AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION:

Cow dung has antiseptic, anti radioactive and anti thermal properties. Cow dung protects the dwellers if the floor of the house is coated with cow dung. The Bhopal gas tragedy killed more than 20,000 people but the people living in houses coated with cow dung were not affected. Atomic power stations in India and Russia uses cow dung to shield radiation.

By burning cow dung cake we can balance the atmospheric temperature as well as kill the germs in the air. In Indian villages, people used to coat the wall of their houses with cow dung which prevent them from too hot or too cold weather.

Acid content in the water can be reduced by treating it with cow dung. In the Michigan State University of USA the scientists of the US Environmental Protection Agency invented a new technology “the MC Lanhan Nutrient Separation System” that produces about 50 gallons of pure water per 100 gallons of cow dung and other manure.

Manures from cow dung and urine makes the soil fertile for yielding more nutrient fruits and vegetables for healthy life. Use of cow dung can overcome negative effect of chemical fertilizer in the agricultural field. Dung from one cow is adequate to fertilize 5 acres of land and its urine can protect 10 acres of land from insects.

Cow dung provides food for a wide range of animals and fungus species, which break it into the food chain and into the soil. Cattles have a natural aversion to feeding around their own dung which leads to the formation of taller unorganized patches of heavily fertilized sward. These habitat patches termed “islets” can be beneficial for many grassland arthropods and spider, bugs. They have an important function in maintaining biodiversity in heavily utilized postures. Thus, help to maintain a balance in eco system.

Deforestation is an important cause of environmental degradation. This problem can be solved to some extent by using cow dung for bio gas. India has approximately 30 crore cattle. Using their dung to produce bio gas, we can save 6 crore tons of firewood every year. Using cow dung cake as fuel can also save our forests and that would arrest deforestation to a great extent. Cow dung from a single cow from its life span produces 4500 litres of bio gas which is equivalent to burning of 6, 80, 00,000 tons of wood. Hence, using cow dung can help us to save 14 crore trees from cutting and burning and to protect our environment.

The famous Italian scientist, Prof. G.E.Beagod has proved that fresh cow dung kills germs of Malaria and T.B. Japan uses cow dung to get protection from emission.

Cow dung is the best natural disinfectant. The houses in Indian villages use cow dung paste to coat the floor and wall to keep away the infecting materials. Thus, the villagers enjoy a healthy life. 

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS:

In Hinduism, people should never show disrespect to for cows as cow is regarded as the gift of God for human race. There is a common belief that one should not feel any repugnance towards the urine or dung of a cow as these are pure and cow represent the divine mother that sustains all human beings and bring them up as her very own offspring.

The vedic fire technique of ‘agnihotra’ was applied by a group of scientist in Yugsaslovia after the Chernobyl disaster and they were able to confirm that after burning a required components of cow dung in the copper pyramid radioactivity is reduced in the immediate vicinity.

Burning of cow dung is a common custom in Middle East. Even the rooms of hospitals in some countries of Southern Europe used to clean by burning cow dung. Cow dung contains a substance which has a disinfecting effect and reduces pathogenic bacteria. Many ancient cultures used cow dung in order to fight various illnesses.

Cows are considered sacred in world religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and others. In ancient Greece, Egypt, Israel and Rome held similar beliefs. In South India and some parts of Srilanka, a cattle festival is celebrated. Even in Assam, the first day of our main festival(Rongali Bihu) is ‘goru Bihu’. Cows are considered as Goddess Laxmi(the goddess of wealth and prosperity). Thus, in villages people clean their houses with cow dung, sprinkle water mixing with cow dung every morning, hang cow dung cakes in the entrance of the house and burn cow dung cakes so that they remain healthy and wealthy always. All these acts of the people help to protect environment from being polluted. Thus, the religious/traditional beliefs have a great scientific value too.

CONCLUSION:

Protection of environment is necessary to save the natural environment for the sake of the universe. Environmental protection is influenced by three factors- environmental legislation, environmental ethics and environmental education. But with the advancement of civilization and scientific invention we are forgetting the use of natural resources as cow dung which is the third most important services rendered by animals for the social, economic and environmental well being of the human world. The combination of traditional beliefs and scientific invention along with Government’s legislation and mass peoples’ awareness can protect the environment that leads us to a pollution free society.

REFERENCES:

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