Dispute over ‘holy cow’

Phnom Penh – Officials and religious leaders are disputing claims by a Cambodian man that his cow is possessed by a magic healing spirit that emigrated from Thailand.

The animal’s owner, Kim Chan, 40, of Kampong Trach district in the southern province of Kampot, claimed on Monday that excrement and urine from his cow could miraculously cure diseases since it became possessed by a heavenly entity last week.

The man said he had been visited by a woman on a bicycle who fell down and wept when she saw the cow, claiming to recognise in its eyes a spirit that had until recently possessed a cow in Thailand.

Local authorities were quick to dismiss the bovine, which has become known as Preah Kou, or Holy Cow, as an ordinary animal and warned people not to trust in any healing powers its owner claims it possesses.

“We had a holy cow here a year-and-a-half ago. You don’t get two that close together. I think it’s just not true,” Kampong Trach deputy district governor Khun Somnang said on Tuesday.

Min Khin, was also scathing of the claims of a cow with magical powers – a phenomenon featured in local media so often late last year that prime minister Hun Sen himself felt compelled to go public and warn ordinary citizens not to be too gullible in swallowing tales of healing herbivores.

“I don’t believe there is a healing cow spirit from Thailand in a Kampot cow. This is a story spread by a group of taxi drivers to make money by taking people somewhere nobody normally wants to go,” said Min Khin, secretary of state for the ministry and cults and religions.

It was not clear on Tuesday whether the cow’s owner Kim Chan was a taxi driver or had taxi driver friends. But Min Khin had an ominous warning for him and other owners of potentially magic cattle who chose to go public with dubious claims.

“The ministry of cults and religions will be sending representatives to follow up these events and inspect claims of magic livestock,” he said.

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DPA, via News24.com, Germany
Mar. 15, 2005
www.news24.com (South Africa)

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday March 17, 2005.
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