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Nandi Baba (नंदी बाबा) LISTEN

Hindi. ‘Daddy or Granddaddy Nandi’, as well as ‘Father or Granddad Joy’. Name given to an actual existing bull in the contemporary Indian city of Varanasi (fig.) that is named after Nandi, the mount of Shiva (fig.), and which has an extraordinary story with a unique daily routine. According to Hindu tradition, the cow was the first creature to arise during the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, and in the Vedas it is detailed that cows are to be treated with the same respect as one's mother, because of the milk they provide. As such, cows are regarded as sacred and are not troubled or imposed upon, even if they enter a business, as in Lucknow Chikan, a textile shop in Varanasi. In the back of this store is a statue of Shiva seated on his bull Nandi. One morning, some three decades ago, a real Zebu bull entered the store and went straight to the Shiva idol, licked it and then laid down at the foot of the idol, where it stayed for half a day. The next day, the bull returned and stayed put until the lights went out at 9 pm. Since then, the bull visits the shop every day, so the baffled shop owner soon started to call his bovine visitor Nandi Baba. And Nandi Baba is organized: it arrives daily at the shop at 9.30 am, except in the summer, when it waddles in half an hour later. The shutters are opened only after the bull reaches the shop. It walks in first and everyone else follows. Then, it walks up to the idol of Shiva, licks it and sits down at its feet. The shop is cleaned even as Nandi Baba sits there. The area around the idol is cleaned only after it leaves the shop in the afternoon to stroll around the market. Post lunch, it returns and sits till closing time. Fearing that the bull will be inconvenienced if the shop is closed, the owner keeps it open every day of the year, and feels he is blessed by Nandi Baba’s presence. Nandi Baba eventually died, but other bulls followed and all were named Nandi Baba by the owner of Lucknow Chikan. The current incumbent bull is Nandi Baba the Fourth.