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Back page: Virtually-sold cow dung patties a hit in India

NEW DELHI (AP) — Like consumers around the globe, Indians are flocking to the online marketplace in droves these days. But there's one unusual item flying off the virtual shelves: Online retailers say cow dung patties are selling like hot cakes. The patties — cow poop mixed with hay and dried in the sun, made mainly by women in rural areas and used to fuel fires — have long been available in India's villages. But online retailers including Amazon and eBay are now reaching out to the country's ever-increasing urban population, feeding into the desire of older city folks to harken back to their childhood in the village. Some retailers say they're offering discounts for large orders. Some customers are asking for gift wrapping. "Cow dung cakes have been listed by multiple sellers on our platform since October and we have received several customer orders" since then, said Madhavi Kochar, an Amazon India spokeswoman. The orders come mostly from cities where it would be difficult to buy dung cakes, she said. In India, where Hindus have long worshipped cows as sacred, cow dung cakes have been used for centuries for fires, whether for heating, cooking or Hindu rituals. Across rural India, piles of drying cow dung are ubiquitous.

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