Raksha Bandhan 2019: UP cow shelter rolls out dung rakhis
A local cow shelter in Bijnor district called ‘Shri Krishna Gaushala, is doing the unimaginable. The Gaushala is making ‘rakhis’ out of cow dung. Alka Lahoti, a 52-year-old NRI who quit her job in Indonesia to help her father with his cow shelter, is heading the initiative.
“I am associated with Juna Akhara and had gone to the Kumbh event this year where I displayed my rakhis. Our product was well received. The saints there asked me to make such type of rakhis for the public. Then I contacted other experts and discussed the matter with them. So far, I have received orders from Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Odisha. I have prepared thousands of rakhis for the upcoming festival,” she said.
Describing the process of manufacturing, Alka said, “First, we prepare a template of different shapes and sizes, and then we put the raw cow dung into these templates and store it in a cool and dark place. Once it becomes dry, we then decorate it with eco-friendly colours and use threads instead of plastic ones. Contrary to the Chinese rakhis, our rakhis are eco-friendly. They can be decomposed and turned into manure after their use.”
She said that making these rakhis initially posed a major challenge. “The rakhis we made out of cow dung got damaged easily. But as we continued with our experiment, we were finally able to come up with strong and hard rakhis. We were able to achieve the consistency by storing the rakhis in a dark and cool place, outside the reach of sunlight.”
The rakhis are being sold for a nominal price and Alka said that if some rakhis remain unsold, these would be distributed for free.
The gaushala, which houses more than 117 cows, churns out various products made of cow dung. They also produce cow dung slabs used for cremation. Apart from this, they manufacture flower pots and disinfectant (phenyl) made from cow dung and gau mutra (cow urine).
A few days back, thousands of people in Jaipur came together to produce a plastic-free plantable ‘SeedRakhi’ for the upcoming Raksha Bandhan festival.