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Cow dung patties selling like hot cakes online in India

December 28, 2015
Agra: In this file photo, a villager makes cow dung cakes for use as fuel.—AFP/File
Agra: In this file photo, a villager makes cow dung cakes for use as fuel.—AFP/File

NEW DELHI: With the holiday season in full swing, Indians are flocking to the online marketplace in droves. But there's one unusual item flying off the virtual shelves: Cow dung patties are selling like hot cakes.

While the patties — cow poop mixed with hay, made mainly by women in rural areas and used to fuel fires — have long been available in India's villages, online retailers including Amazon and eBay are now reaching out to the country's ever-increasing urban population.

Some retailers say they're offering discounts for large orders. Some customers are asking for gift wrapping.

In India, where Hindus worship cows as sacred, cow dung cakes have been used for centuries to fuel fires for cooking or Hindu rituals. Across rural India, piles of drying cow dung are ubiquitous.

Many Hindus regard the cow as the living symbol of their religion. Hindu welfare organisations run gaushalas, or cow shelters, in many cities where abandoned cows found wandering the streets are given food and shelter. Feeding a cow is seen by many Hindus as a way to appease the gods and get one’s wishes fulfilled.