As the world prepares to celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolates, flowers, and dates, India’s Animal Welfare Board has issued an unprecedented appeal calling to celebrate February 14th as “Cow Hug Day,” claiming that such an event “will bring emotional richness” and “increase individual and collective happiness.”
This is NOT a joke!
On 14th February, Valentine's Day, the Indian government has asked people to celebrate the day as "Cow Hug Day"!
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) February 8, 2023
Dr. Sujit Kumar Dutta, the board secretary, signed the appeal. Officials told the newspaper The Indian Express that the appeal was issued “on the Union fisheries and animal husbandry ministry’s direction.”
“We all know that the cow is the backbone of Indian culture and rural economy, sustains our life, represents cattle wealth and biodiversity.” The appeal read. “It is known as ‘kamdhenu’ and ‘gaumata’ because of its nourishing nature like a mother, the giver of all providing [sic] riches to humanity.”
I first thought it's FAKE NEWS, had archived tweets by news channels & verified handles. Turns out it's true. Animal Welfare board of India wants (appeal) you to celebrate "Cow Hug Day" on Feb 14th Coz it brings “emotional richness” & increase “individual & collective happiness” pic.twitter.com/wPEooNaAMG
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) February 8, 2023
The appeal also criticized Western culture and civilization, saying, “Vedic traditions are almost on the verge of extinction due to the progress of west [sic] culture over time,” and argued that “The dazzle of western civilization has made our physical culture and heritage almost forgotten,”
“In view of the immense benefits of the cow, hugging [the] cow will bring emotional richness and hence will increase our individual and collective happiness. Therefore, all cow lovers may also celebrate February 14 as Cow Hug Day, keeping in mind the importance of the mother cow and making life happy and full of positive energy.” the appeal further read.
The appeal was signed and issued with approval from India’s department of animal husbandry and dairying and the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry, and dairying.
Speaking to the Indian Express, the board’s assistant secretary Prachi Jain stated that the authority received orders from the Union ministry and even received certain representations. Jain added that the appeal applies to all states and territories in India, with Gujarat and several other states observing February 14 as Cow Hug Day.
— Molitics (@moliticsindia) February 11, 2023
In Hinduism, the country’s largest religion, cows are considered sacred since they represent Mother Earth. Killing or eating them is considered to be blasphemous. Stray cows strolling around roads is a common sight in the South Asian country of over 1 billion people.
Under the administration of the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party, reverence for the cattle has somewhat become policy. In the state of Haryana, chief minister Lal Khattar issued guidelines ordering “at least one hospital in each district of the state for timely treatment and care of stray cows injured in road accidents.”
— Sharon (@sharon304) February 8, 2023
The country even has shelters to protect stray cows called gaushalas, and the state and federal governments have increasingly given these shelters funding. They were also called upon to create products such as incense and soap from cow dung and urine.
UPDATE: After widespread criticism from the political opposition and mockery on social media, the Indian government withdrew its appeal to celebrate February 14 as Cow Hug Day instead of Valentine’s Day.