Hindus believe in reincarnation. According to their beliefs, a spirit can be on Earth in the form of a human or an animal.
Cows are especially revered and seen as mothers of the Earth. Their milk sustains us. If you feed a cow it is considered a great blessing. Many of the cows, i.e. buffalo, roam the streets and neighborhoods freely. They forage for their food, but if you begin feeding a cow she will arrive everyday for her food. Their milk must be boiled because they can harbor bacteria due to the way they have to scavenge for their food.
Dogs are also allowed to run free and there is no sterilization program and no euthanasia. When I was in Faridabad we were feeding the “neighborhood” dogs, a pack of about 12-15 dogs that roamed the streets of a nice residential area.
Pigs mostly gather around garbage dump areas to scavenge for food. This is one reason you probably won’t see pork on many dinner tables in India. A friend of mine is beginning a pig farm. He says that there is a market for pork in India. He tells me it is a hidden ingredient in many dishes already.
Goats also live on the streets, mostly in the villages. Non-vegetarian Indians do eat goats although the majority of the goats I see seem to be wild or kept like pets.
Monkeys, although they can sometimes be destructive, are also tolerated. A few years ago Punjab state opened its first Monkey Jail for the worst offenders. It now has more than 400 inmates. These are monkeys that habitually steal things and bite or harm humans.
The animals seem to know that no harm will come to them. They lounge and sleep in the medians of busy streets and even lay down in the middle of the roadway to take a nap. Once I saw a crowd form to kick and abuse a driver that accidentally hit a cow in the street.
Many Indians and some hotels keep peacocks and doves. The peacock is the national bird of India. It’s beautiful and loud!
Most Indians are vegetarians, primarily for religious reasons, which prohibit causing suffering to any living creature. Others stick to vegetables to keep the cost of food under control. Very few animals are killed here for food. Chicken is the meat of choice for most meat eaters, although in the Muslim areas you will see other meats being sold.