Peacocks don't have sex, but rather shed tears to conceive, according to a judge in western India whose unique theories have set off a social media storm in the country.
At a hearing in Rajasthan state's high court Wednesday, judge Mahesh Chandra Sharma urged India's government to declare the cow -- considered sacred in Hindu-majority India -- as the national animal since it is ‘as pious as a peacock’.
‘The peacock is a lifelong celibate. It never has sex with the peahen. The peahen gets pregnant after swallowing the tears of the peacock,’ Sharma said on his last day in office before retiring.
Sharma's comments, made in response to an NGO's petition on the condition of state-run cow shelters, sparked a flurry of jokes and comments on social media.
‘Profoundly ironical, that it was the peacock (not its tears but plumage) that led Darwin to propose the landmark theory of Sexual Selection,’ said Anand Ranganathan on Twitter.
Some users posted wildlife footage of peacocks mating to disprove his theory, while several pointed to suggestions on Quora, a user-generated question-and-answer site, that his celibacy claim came from ancient Hindu epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana.
In his 145-page order, Sharma cites Hindu scriptures to bolster his case -- listing the ‘miraculous’ age-defying qualities of cow dung and urine.
‘(Mother cow) is the only animal that inhales as well as exhales oxygen,’ he said.
‘Cow urine has the miraculous property of destroying any kind of germs. It provides strength to mind and heart. It stops ageing,’ he said, adding that its horns ‘acquire cosmic energy’.
‘Houses plastered with cow dung are safe from radio waves.’
Cows have increasingly become a focal point of nationalist discourse in India where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing government has made cattle protection a key theme since coming to power in 2014.
The government last week prohibited the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter across India, sparking protests in states where beef is eaten.
The slaughter of cows, as well as the possession or consumption of beef, is banned in most but not all Indian states. Some impose up to life imprisonment for infringements.
At least a dozen people, mostly Muslims, have been killed by Hindu mobs in recent years over rumours that they were eating beef, slaughtering cows or smuggling them.
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