The fourth day of Diwali is celebrated as Annakut to thank God for his benevolence. Govardhan Puja is one of the primary rituals associated with this day. The legend behind this festival is centred around a hillock named Govardhan which Krishna lifted to shelter the people living there from torrential rains. Thus, it is celebrated by making small mounds of cow dung that symbolize the hillock and prayers to Lord Govardhan. Cow dung in India is not treated as mere excrement, but has a number of uses. Primary amongst them is the burning of dried cow dung cakes as fuel to cook food in rural households and provide heat. Cow dung is also an excellent fertilizer. In many places, cow dung is also added to mud bricks so as to strengthen the brick and prevent disintegration.
According to Ayurveda, cow dung is germicidal and has healing properties. To this effect, cow dung is mentioned a number of times in ancient Indian scriptures.
1. Cow dung’s antibacterial properties make it a good natural disinfectant. Using cow dung to disinfect an area involves coating the floor with a paste of fresh cow dung. This practice is followed in many rural households throughout India. Burning cakes of dried cow dung are also said to repel insects and mosquitoes.
2. Cow dung is also said to have mood enhancing properties. It contains bacteria named Mycobacterium vaccae which is responsible for activating neurons that produce serotonin. Seratonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes towards making a person feel happy.
3. Dried cow dung is also used to make disinfectant soaps. Some of the ayurvedic practitioners also use cow dung to treat skin ailments. However, you must keep in mind that cow dung does contain bacteria and hence should not be applied on skin that is cut or raw.
4. Even the ash produced by cow dung has beneficial uses. This ash when added to pond water is also said to balance the acidity in the water and regulate pH levels. Dry ash absorbs oil and fat and hence is also used as a cleaning agent.
Here are some other medicinal uses of cow dung:
1. According to some ancient scripts, cow dung ash can be used to strengthen gums and clean teeth.
2. Cow dung is an excellent disinfectant and mosquito repellent. This is the reason why the walls of the houses were coated with cow dung in the ancient times.
3. The cow dung can be used a body back in order to detoxify the body.
4. It is also said to be very helpful in preventing pimples.
5. Cow dung is also known to improve blood circulation.
6. It also helps in keeping the infections from spreading.
7. Ayurvedic medicines made out of cow dung also work wonders in treating indigestion problems.
However, if one chooses to use cow dung to treat an ailment or cleanse the body in any way, it should be done only under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor.