India: Calf Born with 3 Eyes, 4 Nostrils Worshipped as Hindu Deity

A calf born with three eyes and four nostrils in east-central India’s Chhattisgarh state last week has attracted masses of people in recent days who are lining up to worship the newborn cow as an “incarnation of God,” the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported Monday.

The female calf was born to a cow owned by a farmer named Hemant Chandel in the Chhattisgarh village of Nawagaon Lodhi on January 13.

“The calf has an additional eye in the middle of her forehead and also four holes in the nostril. Its tail looks like a ‘jata’ (heap of matted hair) and its tongue is also longer than normal calves,” Chandel told PTI on January 17.

The calf received a clean bill of health from a local veterinarian, according to the farmer.

Word spread of the newborn cow’s deformities soon after her birth on January 13. The news drew dozens of curious villagers from Chhattisgarh and its surrounding area to Chandel’s farm, many of whom simply hoped to catch a glimpse of the rare combination of physical features displayed by the animal. Some of the visitors are lining up “to worship it [the calf] as an avatar of Lord Shiva,” according to PTI.

Cows are considered sacred animals within Hinduism, which is the majority religion in India. Approximately 80 percent of India’s population of 1.39 billion identifies as Hindu, according to the nation’s latest available census data, taken in 2011. Hindus worship the cow in part because they consider the animal’s gentle demeanor “representative of divine and natural beneficence,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The cow is closely associated with some Hindu deities including a major deity known as Lord Shiva who is often depicted as having “three eyes and, according to different myths, either two or four hands.” Lord Shiva is likewise known as “Lord of Cattle.”

Chhattisgarh villagers were quick to pick up on the parallels between farmer Chandal’s newborn calf and Lord Shiva last week, prompting a flood of well-wishers and Hindu worshippers to descend on his property and present offerings to the cow.

“People are seen queuing up outside Chandel’s house and offering flowers and coconut to the calf,” PTI detailed on January 17.

The custom of garlanding cows is often expressed throughout India by Hindus and especially during specific Hindu festivals such as Gopastami.

Chandel told PTI on Monday his newborn calf’s mother “had earlier given birth to three calves” all of which were “born with normal anatomy.”

“The latest calf born with the rare anatomy has surprised everyone. We believe that the Almighty has taken birth in our house,” Chandal said.

Gabrielle Reyes