Photos courtesy of No-Mad India
I love serendipity, don’t you? You know, you are walking along, not looking for anything in particular, and then you stumble upon a surprising item that is exactly what you wanted — but had no idea that you ever did! It’s amazing when events happen that way, and that’s how I discovered this week’s spotlight theme.
I was working on another article for a different magazine when I found out that this manufacturer that specializes in home décor and linens has a whole second life as a purveyor of “plush” toys. Yes, technically, these aren’t plush, but they are certainly charming critters. The Nandi cows are the mascot of an Indian-based company that combines Eastern skills and philosophy with Western interests and commerce. It is a meeting place of multiculturalism with a decidedly Indian bent. The heritage of the owner and the firm’s artisans is proudly front and center.
One way in which No-Mad is jubilantly Indian is with its veneration of its company mascot, a cow that is named Nandi. Her portrait abounds in their offices and her likeness is utilized as the face of their handmade goods.
There are portraits of her where she is plain and unadorned; there are other images of her where she is emblazoned with royal colors of power and good fortune. She is an emblem to the No-Mad staff, but she is also keyed into their culture’s honoring of the cow as a sacred entity.
According to the No-Mad explanation, cows are seen as the universal mother and, as such, they are not to be harmed or killed; they are not to be hurt or eaten. She is the one who “gives her milk to all. The sound ‘Ma’ which means ‘mother’ comes from her. She feeds us. We must therefore honour her life. Never will an Indian pass by her side without touching her and then putting his hands on her head as a tribute. He sees all gods in her. . . .”
The Nandi dolls/toys came about when the sales force wanted to show off how their textiles would look as a cut-and-shaped artifact. It’s one thing to see a bolt of fabric and another thing to see it taken down and changed into a tangible figure. That is why they began making the Nandi cow heads — it was a way to give vendors an opportunity to touch, hold, and experience the fabric. They never imagined that people would ask to buy the heads and then sell them as home décor and soft, embraceable cushions. Their official press release even describes it as a “happy accident.” Yes, a serendipitous sales epiphany!
I really like this design because cows are such a happy, contented, agreeable creature. Whenever I am driving somewhere and I happen to catch a glimpse of a cow in a field, I actually feel myself become happier. The sight of one cow brings me joy; a herd of cow really makes me feel like I’m way over the moon! Yes, coming across an unexpected group of cows is a happy accident for me. Keep in mind, I live in a pretty urban area, so it is a treat for me when I see these four-legged animals grazing peacefully and gazing unblinkingly in my direction. It is a thrill for this city slicker that maybe my more rural colleagues take for granted.
Cows are a reminder that we share our space with more things than we might imagine. When I go about my daily business, I expect to run into any manner of humanity: paupers, pirates, poets, pawns, and kings (my nod to Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” song for that litany). I don’t expect to encounter any critters other than cats and dogs, squirrels and pigeons. Cows are a gentle nod to how we’re just one component in the greater scheme of life.
It’s nice to slow down and take stock of nature and our connection to it. There are tons of adages that remind us to stop and smell the roses, or to gather our rosebuds while we may. I’d like to proffer a new one: if you encounter a cow, take a minute to respect its life, its purpose, and its importance in your life and your local economy. There is a reason why a successful business is termed a “cash cow.”
Cows are at the root of so many important and profitable enterprises — and they aren’t even aware of it. Talk about taking everything in stride! Talk about not letting one’s success go to one’s head! Cows — you just gotta love them!