We all have our own personal bêtes noires in the fragrance world, our Room 101 scents, our most feared scrubbers. I thought I had "sniffed it all" when it comes to the dark underbelly of the fragrance market, but then I finally got round to reading last Saturday week's edition of The Times (I did say I'd been a bit sidetracked lately...), and spotted a feature on an Indian brand of aftershave containing cow pee. Well, not just aftershave by all accounts - the company in question, Gou Brands Private, also makes a range of toiletries such as shampoo and skin cream, all containing either cow urine or dung.
The rationale for including bovine waste in these products is twofold: their alleged medical benefits on the one hand, plus a desire to protect cows (a sacred animal in the Hindu faith) from being slaughtered once their milking days are over. Two of the ailments which bovine waste claimes to cure are bad breath and cancer. The association between splashing on urine-soaked aftershave and having fragrant breath is rather lost on me, though it may be that that particular health claim is specific to another urine-based line of products, a fizzy drink range called Gauloka Peya. Gauloka Peya was launched by the fundamentalist Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and is available in four flavours: orange, rose, lemon and "khus", a type of scented grass. Hmm - sounds like a case of "RSS drink" rather than "RSS feed"...
The Times goes on to report: "Om Prakash, the director of the RSS Cow Protection Unit, was bullish. 'This will end the market for carbonated fizzy drinks.'" Goodness me - I sense that the likes of Coca-Cola and Cadbury Schweppes should be running scared...or even, er...."p***ing themselves with fear". And the Times journalist is on stunning form with his punning headline:
"A golden opportunity to whiff of cows' eau de toilet".
I would link to the full article, but The Times' archives are now subscription-only.
Photo of Goratna aftershave from Sulekha.com