Why is the cow sacred in India?
Indians consume milk on a daily basis, and the cow as a provider of milk, is equated to one's mother (hence the expression Gomäta = mother cow). Traditionally, Indians had cows in every household. They were part of the family, with names and personalities. Just like one would not hurt/eat their pets, the Indians did not hurt the cows and respected them. The cow has a special role in the Hindu mythologies; Kamadhenu is a wish-fulfilling cow. A cow is also depicted as vehicle of several deities. Many social reform movements in India (Jainism, Buddhism, the Bhakti Movement, Gandhi's non-violent movement) advocated non-violence, and no cruelty to animals. So in India, other animals also (like elephants, mice, monkeys) are considered holy. That said, many ethnic communities do eat beef in India. The cow meat is consumed by Roman Catholics, Anglo-Indians, and several other non-Brahmin Hindu communities. However Slaughter of the cows is banned in several states keeping in view the sentiments of Hindu religion.