India’s Government Urges Citizens To Hug A Cow, Here’s Why

Traditional Hindu values have caused the country to turn Valentine's Day into Hug A Cow Day.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and for many people, it is a time to celebrate with flowers, chocolates, a good meal, and the one you love. So it may be surprising news that at least one country is encouraging its citizens to spend it doing a different activity. India has officially recommended everyone hug a cow rather than partake in chocolate treats.

In Hinduism, cows are sacred. The animals are deeply revered, and most Indian states have banned their slaughter. And that belief is closely tied to India’s current government.

According to AP News, “The Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing a Hindu agenda, seeking supremacy of the religion at the expense of a secular nation known for its diversity. Hindus comprise nearly 80% of its nearly 1.4 billion people. Muslims account for 14%, while Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains account for most of the remaining 6%.” Consequently, India’s government has turned a relatively blind eye to attempts at rooting out secularism among Hindus.

Many devout Hindus are taking a firm stance against Valentine’s Day. They claim that it goes against the country’s traditional values. However, many of the youth in India happily celebrate the holiday.

The younger generations in India enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day. They gather for parties, gift exchanges, fun times in the park among friends, and good food at local restaurants. However, some hardline political organizations have taken steps to prevent these celebrations.

“In recent years, Hindu hardliners have raided shops in Indian cities, burned cards and gifts, and chased hand-holding couples out of restaurants and parks, saying that Valentine’s Day promotes promiscuity.” Groups like Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena believe their actions will help bring about change and restore traditional Hindu values to the county.

And it appears the Indian government may agree. The Animal Welfare Board of India decided to officially re-dub Valentine’s Day as “Cow Hug Day” last Wednesday. The Board said, “hugging cows will bring emotional richness and increase individual and collective happiness.”

The Animal Welfare Board of India’s website states: “From ensuring that animal welfare laws in the country are diligently followed, to provide grants to Animal Welfare Organizations and advising the Government of India on animal welfare issues, the Board has been the face of the animal welfare movement in the country for the last 50 years.” With the “Cow Hug Day” promotion, it appears the Board is straying a bit from its original mission. And that has many people concerned.

Political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay expressed significant doubts about the campaign. He said, “The unfortunate part is this has now official sanction. This shows an eraser of one more line between the state and religion, which is very depressing.”

Whether or not the “Cow Hug Day” campaign gains traction in India remains uncertain. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation. Feel free to hug a local cow if you want to, and then spend the rest of Valentine’s Day celebrating with your love.