express news service
Ongole: A visit to the village of Ayatri, to her grandparents’ village after a long 25 years, extended the lives of many cattle that otherwise would have ended up in slaughterhouses. G Gayatri Ravi Shankar, a Hyderabad-based bank employee, was excited to visit Chakicherla in Ulvapadu mandal of Prakasam in April 2018.
For him, a trip to the village with family after more than two decades was also a trip down memory lane, and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of city life. The village presented a piece of reality in the form of two old, emaciated cows awaiting slaughter.
At that time the farmers of the drought-prone region had no option but to sell their spent cows in slaughterhouses.
Unaware of his imminent death, the sight of cows shook Gayatri. He decided to take on the responsibility of caring for orphaned and aged cows, or those suffering from debilitating disease. She went to a nearby ‘gaushala’, or shelter for cows, to accept two cows, promising to pay for their fodder and maintenance.
Even after returning to Hyderabad, Gayatri’s plight continued to haunt Gayatri. After discussions with her pharmacist husband Ravi Shankar and son, who was pursuing his graduation, she decided to set up a ‘gaushala’ in the village.
The decision made life busy for Gayatri, but it gave her a sense of fulfillment. She traveled between Chakicherla and Hyderabad every 15 days, and soon became the caretaker of eight cows. Seeing her dedication, Sri Ganapati Satchidananda Swami appreciated her and advised Gayatri to continue her mission.
With ‘members’ in her ‘gaushala’ nearing the double-digit mark, Gayatri built a new shelter and registered it as ‘Sri Datta Brindavan Gau Kshetram’ in 2019. The ‘Kshetram’, which started with eight cows in its care, now has 80 cows and 21 calves.
Even as Ravi Shankar took care of the medical needs of the cows, the villagers also donated animal feed or even a bunch of hay to the shelter. Now farmers believe that protecting the cows has blessed the village with ample rain and good agricultural produce. Gayatri said that since childhood, he has been attached to rural life and rural environment.
“We started a ‘gaushala’ here three years ago with two aged cows and now the number of cows and their calves has crossed 100,” Gayatri said.
Madhuri, a close friend of Gayatri, said that setting up and maintaining a cowshed is not an easy task.
“The couple used to take bank loans to provide shelter to more cows in the ‘gaushala’. Gayatri’s uncle Nagendra, who returned from Australia a few years ago, volunteered to take over the responsibility of the cowshed two years ago. Nagendra is living in this village to take care of the cowshed.