Cow and calf walk through 14th-storey flat at Singapore condo
It was a strange sight that residents at Eight Courtyards condominium in Canberra Drive woke up to on Saturday morning.
A cow and a calf led a procession of about 40 people through the estate.
A man with gloves, a bucket and trash bags followed closely behind the animals, just in case the animals defecated in public.
The animals squeezed into a lift and went up to the 14th storey of one of the blocks, where the Thiagarajen family was waiting expectantly.
The family had just moved into their new home and the cows were there to do a house blessing.
Mrs Sri Vanitha, 35, was delighted at the arrival of her "guests" to her newly-renovated home.
She was even more pleased when the cows let loose almost immediately - dropping faeces and splashing urine all over the living room floor.
She said: "It's the first time in my house and I'm very contented. It is a blessing."
The Singaporean family had invited other residents through Facebook and SMS, and were happy that about 30 of them turned up.
As the cows were walked through the rest of the three-bedroom unit to give more blessings throughout the home, the neighbours and their children followed, keen to take pictures and witness the ceremony.
The cow was also milked, but the milk was not for consumption; it was used to wash the statues of the deities in the home as part of the ceremony.
One of the neighbours, Mrs Sooria Kala, 55, a senior administrator, spent an hour in the morning preparing for the housewarming.
"I have never seen anyone do a cow blessing in a condominium before," she said.
"It's usually done in landed properties because it's quite a hassle."
Another neighbour, housewife Serene Yeo, 42, said she turned up with her family of four to witness the ceremony, despite not having moved in yet.
She said: "We were very excited when we found out they were bringing a cow because it's a new experience for my two daughters.
"It's also nice to support our neighbours since we'll be staying in the same block."
Mr Shaiful Sukaimi, 48, the chief security officer of the premises, said it was his first time having to do crowd control for cattle.
"We had a briefing before this about crowd control and there were six security officers, as well as two people from management, here to help," he said.
"It's a good thing the cows didn't eat the plants and the handler cleaned up everything."
As for the house, Mrs Sri said she will not be cleaning up any time soon.
"It is an awesome smell, it's so divine," she said. "I will not be cleaning it up, at least not for the next three days."
'Goddess dwells in cow's tail'
Mr Rajagopal Balakrishnan, the manager of Viknesh Dairy Farm which provided the cows for the home blessing, said: "In Hinduism, we believe that the cow is home to all the deities.
"The goddess of wealth and prosperity dwells in the tail of the cow, and thus the cow's defecation is considered a blessing."
Mr Rajagopal, 36, who has been with the farm in Lim Chu Kang for five years, says there are about 20 requests for cows to bless new homes every year.
There are another 20 requests per year to have the cows taken to temples.
Permits from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority are required each time the cows are taken out of the farm, whose main business is supplying milk.
Before each house blessing or temple visit, Mr Rajagopal will do a survey of the location, which is usually landed property.
For the Thiagarajen family's home blessing, Mr Rajagopal surveyed the location two weeks in advance.
"We had to measure the size of the lift and the maximum load," he said.
"We also checked the size of the house and then picked a suitable cow out of the 80 that we have."
The cow and calf used for the Thiagarajen family's house blessing were about 200kg and 40kg respectively.
Each cow has its own handler, as well as a farm worker who cleans up after them.