100 Days in India Project
9/ 100 Goats in Coats
On our travels around India we came across quite a few goats wearing clothes. The goats themselves were pretty feral and would just hang about the streets, scavenging whatever they could find to eat and treating the urban landscape like their native mountain homes. They seemed to spend very little time on the ground, preferring instead to perch upon chairs and scooters.
The goat’s clothes ranged from old t-shirts and sweatshirts to some pretty nice woollen jumpers, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to be wearing nicer outfits than the people walking by. I used to wonder whether anyone was ever tempted to steal a wooly tank-top from a goat and replace it with the 20 year old t-shirt they were wearing. It would smell decidedly goaty — like my hands most of the time because I couldn’t ever walk past one without giving their boney little heads a stroke — but they could always wash it in the river.
So, why were people fond of dressing up their animals in this way? It perplexed me and I made it my mission to find out (once I have a question I cannot rest until I’ve found the answer — it’s one of my many faults). When I raised the subject in conversation a surprising amount of people hadn’t really noticed the outfits, and others were confused as to why you might not put clothes on an animal. I was still a little confused because, after all, from my own observations it was clear that the menagerie of street animals in India was tolerated, but not much love was given, so dressing them up seemed like an unusual pastime.
We were visiting in the winter months of January and February, and there was a definite chill in the air in the evenings, so we initially thought that the owners of the goats were being kind by giving them warm outfits to keep them toasty and comfortable. The reason for their little uniforms was actually slightly more sinister. I found out that the goats were owned by meat-eating Indians who had indeed given them clothes to keep them warm. Not out of kindness, but rather because they fattened up faster before they were slaughtered.
Sacrificing an old cardigan might just mean you have more to eat later. A cold goat is a skinny goat apparently.