We are a nation of sanctimonious hypocrites. And perhaps the most hypocritical thing about us is our religiosity. Even during Navaratri, we have our dinner served on Bone China crockery. Bone china mixes cow bone ash into the ceramic material. By mixing the bone ash in the ceramic material, it gives your china a warm soft looking colour and translucency. For it to be of high quality the cow bone ash content should be in excess of 30%. I buy those which are above 45% as it gives that luminous effect.
Many of us have been using ‘bone china’ crockery for as long as we can remember. However, most of us may not have given a passing thought to the word “bone”. It is disturbing to know that bone china crockery is not as harmless as it appears to be. Rather, it is a deadly cocktail of slaughterhouse byproducts made available through a cruel industrial process. Yes, bone “china” crockery indeed contains the bones of animals. Thomas Frye, who is known to have begun the industrial production of bone china crockery, set up his factory near the slaughterhouses and cattle markets in Essex, England. Lenox, Spode, Wedgewood, U P Ceramics, Walpole are some of the well known and old manufacturers.
With an add on of a remote possibility of catching Mad Cow !
There are few diseases associated with parts of the cow. One such disease is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease. BSE first appeared in November 1986 in Ashford, in England. Mad Cow Disease isn’t contagious, but it does kill the animals and humans that get it. They get it by eating parts of cow that had been infected with an abnormal protein called a prion.
The theory is that the heat of the incineration should destroy the strange proteins called prions, that carry the Mad Cow Disease. Now one alternate hypothesis is that even after incineration at a temperature of 1100 degrees centigrade, the resulting ash is considered infectious as prions are not destroyed. Now imagine that you are heating a dish of Paneer Makhni in a Bone- China bowl for five minutes in microwave and suddenly the virus becomes active. Maybe at that time the TV was blaring Times Now and the virus got excited, within the prion, at the wrong time ! This logic maybe a far fetched but then there is a powerful cattle lobby at work to quieten such thoughts. The alternate hypothesis prophesised is that mad cow disease affects only the brain and central nervous system of cows.
In India we are used to these paradoxes. Religion teaches us to worship Durga, embodiment of Shakti, the power of femininity. But from female foeticide to rape, ‘honour’ killings and dowry deaths women are subjected to a murderous violence that seems to have become systemic in its everyday occurrence.
People have been targeted – in some cases with fatal results – for eating beef, or even just for being suspected of eating the flesh of our sacred gau mata. Yet everywhere we see stray cows, skeletal with starvation, foraging on the streets of our towns and cities eating poisonous plastic bags for lack of anything else.
That’s the tragic hypocrisy of lip-service disguised as pious religion. So, have fun with Bone China ! Anyway we are all mortals.