Milk is something special in India
Milk is something special in India An Indian man carries milk canisters outside of a train station in New Delhi, India. At 4:30 AM, the New Delhi train station is already bustling with milkmen from surrounding towns, who arrive carrying cans of milk that they deliver to neighborhoods across the capital. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Milk is something special in India
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It is the world's largest producer of milk and also the largest consumer. And that's for a good reason. In India, milk is not just the morning glass you drink before you sprint out of the house. Its uses go far beyond the dietary and nutritional.

By the end of 2014, India was producing 140 million metric tons of milk per year. That's roughly 50 percent more than the United States. The U.S. is the second-biggest producer of milk.

Milk's special importance in India goes back to Hindu mythology. It includes the legend of the Samudra manthan and the churning of the ocean that brought forth the drink of immortality. That drink is the amrit. 

It also includes the goddess Kamdhenu, which revealed itself as a wish-granting divine cow. Hindus consider cows to be sacred embodiments of Kamdhenu. They make up 81 percent of India's 1.3 billion people.

Krishna worshippers have special affection for cows. The Hindu god's role as a cowherd. Stories about his love of butter are legendary. He is lovingly called "Makhan chor," or butter thief.

Hindus use milk and its products for religious purposes because it is believed to have purifying qualities. Ghee is clarified butter and it is used in lamps for rituals. Milk is used to bathe Hindu idols on special occasions. Sweets made from milk or ghee are used as offerings to gods. It accompanies so much of Hindu life. It is included in rituals from an infant's first food to the last rituals after death.

Milk also goes beyond religion: Ghee spread on flatbread can be a special treat for the poor; buttermilk is a popular summer drink to soothe the stomach. If you are in India, you cannot escape calorie-filled sweets made with milk. Another thing common across this large and diverse country is the morning cup of milky tea. Tiny tea stalls start their businesses early, with migrant laborers normally the first customers.

The dairy industry became the force it is today because of major changes decades ago. Amul is a co-operative dairy that was born in 1946 out of a revolt by milk producers against unfair trade practices. It now has 3.37 million members. Amul was a model for Operation Flood, a nationwide campaign to increase milk production that began in 1970.

Many dairy operations are quite small. In a rural corner of India's northeastern Indian state of Assam, 24-year-old Srimoti Mandal milks her three cows in the early morning. She gets an average of about 6 liters per day and selling it for about $3.50. With her husband unable to work because of asthma, she depends on the milk to support her family of four. The family includes two young children.

In a neighboring village, a bent Pronoti Devi, 67, supplies milk from her three cows daily to a tea shop.

At 4:30 a.m., the New Delhi train station is filled with milkmen from nearby towns who arrive carrying cans of milk that they deliver to neighborhoods across the capital. Most were up hours before the sun's first rays. Some will make a second trip before the day ends. And then they will return to feed the cattle that in turn help feed their families.

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Why is milk so important in India?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • waverlyb-612-
    11/04/2015 - 09:27 a.m.

    The reason why milk is so importent in India is because they use milk for religous practices, milk is in alot of there foods and candys, milk is used to make milk teas that they drink early in the morning, and milk is used to earn money for small families that are able to own cows and milk them.

  • geliciab-612-
    11/04/2015 - 03:14 p.m.

    Milk is important in india because it is used for religious practices and it is used in many food and sweet. In the text it says hindus consider cows to be sacred embodiments of kahmenu. Since hindu's consider cows to be sacred , milk is going to have purifying qualities and it is used in religious purpose. I am a hindu and one thing i can tell in most religious things we use milk.

  • aidano-1-bar
    11/04/2015 - 04:06 p.m.

    Milk in India relates to religion because "It includes the legend of the Samudra manthan" This article was interesting because I never knew that milk was this important anywhere in the world,and it relates to religion.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    11/04/2015 - 08:20 p.m.

    I think this is cool because I did not know that milk was so important in India. I also did not know that India produced 50% more than the 140 million metric tons the US produces. I wonder why people want to sell milk so much. In the US, we kind of take milk for granted but for the Indians, it is important in their daily lives.
    Why is milk so important in India?
    Milk is so important in India because it is part of their religion.

  • melissaj-Ste
    11/04/2015 - 08:50 p.m.

    I know I drink a lot of milk, but dang! I wonder how much milk produced in India is also goat milk. Most of the milk produced must be from cows because of the spiritual reasons, but there are other animals that can give milk. Because of their spiritual connection to cows and milk, it would make sense that Indian citizens take better care of their cows then in other countries.

  • jordanr-Orv
    11/04/2015 - 10:38 p.m.

    Their heritage is very focused on the importance of milk.

  • jocelync-612-
    11/05/2015 - 09:17 a.m.

    Milk is important in India because it's not just "milk". Milk in India goes back all the way to Hindu Mythology. It is also very important because it includes a goddess called Kamdhenu, which revealed itself as a wish granting divine cow. And Hindus consider cows to be sacred.

  • kinseyc-612-
    11/05/2015 - 09:26 a.m.

    The reason why milk is so important to India is because milk is a big produce.It a need for them . In the text it says most of their desserts are made out of milk products and that is what cheese and butter are made of. In the text it also says that milk is made for spiritual reasons.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    11/05/2015 - 12:24 p.m.

    Milk in India is not only used for their health, but India is known for their wide religion and is used there. I know the United States used a lot, but I had no idea that India used double that!

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    11/05/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    I hate milk so much. Milk is really disgusting. However, i didn't know that it could be used for religious purposes.

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