NEW DELHI: Cow urine may soon be used to clean the floors of India's government offices in a country where bovines are sacred and their bodily waste considered therapeutic and even thirst-quenching.
A charity working to care for and protect the cows that freely roam India's streets has developed a cleaning product with their urine - distilled and spiked with natural perfumes to remove the pungent odour.
“Initially when we tried the product, it had too strong a smell. Nobody would have used it. So we have distilled the urine now and added natural ingredients like pine oil to cover the smell,” said Anuradha Modi from the Holy Cow Foundation.
Modi said she was working on a deal to get the company that supplies housekeeping items to government offices to use the product -- which is called “Gaunyle”, with gau the Hindi word for cow.
"We have tested the product in labs and we can say that it is much better than the phenyl that you get in the market which is so full of chemicals," she told AFP. "We want to create a market for cow urine and I can say supply won't be a problem."
The product is the latest in a long line of items made from bovine bodily waste, ranging from toiletries such as soap to urine-based medicines and even a soft drink labelled a “healthy” alternative to Coke and Pepsi.
While the sacred status of cows precludes India's huge Hindu majority from eating beef, their waste falls into the same acceptable category as dairy products. The cow, also known as “Kamdhenu” -- “that which fulfils human needs” -- is described in Hindu scriptures as the “mother” of civilisation.
Their revered status took on extra significance after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party won a landslide election victory in May last year. The party's election manifesto pledged to work to protect cows.
The Economic Times on Friday quoted the head of the company that supplies housekeeping products to government offices praising the urine cleaner.
“It is a great product for the health of safai karamcharis (cleaners) as well as for the cows,” Jagdish Bhatia told the daily.