Hindus plan cow urine drink to rival Western sodas

NEW DELHI Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:48am EST

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - A hardline Hindu organization, known for its opposition to "corrupting" Western food imports, is planning to launch a new soft drink made from cow's urine, often seen as sacred in parts of India.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Corps, said the bovine beverage is undergoing laboratory tests for the next 2 to 3 months but did not give a specific date for its commercial release.

The flavor is not yet known, but the RSS said the liquid produced by Hinduism's revered holy cows is being mixed with products such as aloe vera and gooseberry to fight diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Many Hindus consider cow urine to have medicinal properties and it is often drunk in religious festivals.

The organization, which aims to transform India's secular society and establish the supremacy of a Hindu majority, said it had not decided on a name or a price for the drink.

"Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes. All are curable by cow urine," Om Prakash, the head of the RSS Cow Protection Department, told Reuters by phone.

Prakash, who is based in Hardwar, one of four holy Hindu cities on the river Ganges where the world's largest religious gathering takes place, said the product will be sold nationwide but did not rule out international success.

"It is useful for the whole country and the world as well. It will be done through shops and through corporates," he said.

The Hindu group has campaigned against foreign imports such as Pepsi and Coca Cola in the past, which it sees as a corrupting influence and a tool of Western imperialism.

The RSS was temporarily banned after a Hindu mob tore down a mosque in 1992 which lead to bloody religious riots.

The Shiv Sena, a hardline Hindu political party also known for attacking what it sees as threats to Indian culture such as Valentine's Day, started a similar initiative last year to appeal to its powerbase in Mumbai.

To promote the food of the native Marathi culture, the Shiv Sena said it was "making a chain like McDonalds" to sell a popular local fried snack.

(Additional reporting by Vipul Tripathi)

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

(matthias.williams@thomsonreuters.com; +91-997 111 0254; Reuters Messaging: matthias.williams.reuters.net@reuters.com))

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