An Indian government body is urging people to hug a cow on Valentine’s Day to embrace India’s traditions and move away from western influence.
A new appeal by the Animal Welfare Board of India, which falls under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, said the board wished to celebrate “Cow Hug Day” on 14 February this year.
Highlighting the significance of cows in the Indian culture and rural economy, the board is urging people to hug a cow to bring emotional richness and happiness to people.
“We all know that the cow is the backbone of Indian culture and rural economy, sustains our life, represent cattle wealth and biodiversity,” the appeal, issued on 6 February and available on the official website, stated.
The board said a day like this was needed because “west culture (sic)” is leading to the near extinction of “Vedic traditions”. The Vedas are religious texts originating in ancient India and considered the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.
“In view of the immense benefit of the cow, hugging with cow will bring emotional richness hence will increase our individual & collective happiness,” it said.
“Therefore, all the cow lovers may also celebrate February 14 as Cow Hug day keeping in mind the importance of mother cow and make life happy and full of positive energy (sic).”
The appeal sparked a range of reactions online with many people describing it as “unbelievable”.
The cow holds an important space in Hindu culture and has been the centre of debate of several incendiary issues in recent years, such as a ban on beef in several states under the right-wing Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi.
While Valentine’s Day celebrations have become commonplace in India in recent decades, the day often sparks uproar from conservative and hardline Hindu organisations. Several vigilante attacks on couples have also been reported in the past.
Several members of Mr Modi’s government have supported the idea of reducing western influence in India and spoken against celebrating Valentine’s Day in the past.
While the board is suggesting this exercise as a way to move away from western culture, hugging dairy animals like cows and goats has in itself been a trend in western countries as a self-care practice.
In the Netherlands, “koe knuffelen” (meaning “cow hugging”) is a practice centred on the inherent healing properties of a good human-to-animal snuggle, according to BBC travel.
“Cow cuddlers typically start by taking a tour of the farm before resting against one of the cows for two to three hours,” BBC wrote about the trend in October 2020.
Goat Yoga has also emerged as a popular self-care exercise offered by several farm owners in western countries.
Source : Independent