Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Charity replaces Hindu sacred cow

Gangotri was a 13-year-old Belgian blue-jersey cross

The RSPCA is giving a cow to a Hindu temple in Hertfordshire to replace one put down by a vet.

The charity said it was sorry for causing offence to the Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple in Watford - but stood by the vet's decision.

A Belgian Blue Jersey cross cow will now be given to the temple.

Temple officials claim they had been "tricked" into letting a vet see the sacred cow Gangotri, when it was sick last December.

At the time of its death, the cow had been injured for more than a year and could not stand.

Life as sacred

The way in which Gangotri was put down by the RSPCA prompted widespread anger in the British Hindu community.

Gangotri's ashes were taken to be scattered at the source of the River Ganges, considered sacred by Hindus who regard all life as sacred.

The Bhaktivedanta Temple care for all the animals on their farm until they die naturally.

Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple, run by Hindu monks of the Hare Krishna tradition, has credited the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, a patron of the RSPCA, with the solution to the dispute.

Dr Williams' office played a key role in negotiations between the RSPCA and the monks.

Sanjay Mistry, from the Hindu Forum of Britain, said he was pleased with the outcome.

He said: "Naturally we are very pleased that the RSPCA has recognised that it acted inappropriately with the killing of Gangotri.

"Whilst understandably the initial incident created considerable outrage within the Hindu community, since then representatives from the community and the Bhaktivedanta Manor Krishna Temple have worked with the RSPCA to seek ways to ensure such incidents do not ever occur again."

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