Photo Courtesy of The Economic Times
India’s Animal Welfare Board (AWBI) released a statement on Wednesday urging citizens to celebrate “Cow Hug Day” instead of Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 by hugging a cow, which resulted in public rejection and the withdrawal of the statement, according to government officials.
“Cow Hug Day” was created to commemorate the Vedic Aryan tradition of worshiping cows as sacred animals representing Mother Earth. With the practice becoming extinct due to the progression of western culture, the board aimed to deliver significance for the day in an appeal and reject the celebration of romance on Valentine’s day as it goes against traditional Indian values.
“We all know that the cow is the backbone of Indian culture and rural economy, sustains our life, represents cattle wealth and biodiversity,” the board said in its appeal. “Vedic traditions are almost on the verge of extinction due to the progress of ‘west culture’ over time. The sparkle of western civilization has made our physical culture and heritage almost forgotten.”
According to the board, hugging cows “will bring emotional richness and increase individual and collective happiness.” Consequently, media outlets have been ridiculing the plans issued by the board and the government by publishing satirical cartoons of humans sexualizing cows as well as cows running away from humans as they would be advocating for consent.
Furthermore, videos have also been released of violent encounters between cows and human beings who would attempt to hug the cows. Here are some tweets that demonstrate the public’s response:
For centuries, cows have been considered sacred in India by the Hindu population. Moreover, Hindus encompass nearly 80% of India’s about 1.4 billion people, with Muslims accounting for 14% and Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains representing the remaining 6%.
The Hindus are against the rising tradition of Indian couples celebrating Valentine’s day and therefore, according to the Associated Press (AP), they demonstrate this by “raiding shops selling Valentine’s Day items, burning cards and gifts, and chasing hand-holding couples out of restaurants and parks, insisting that the day promotes promiscuity.” Hindu nationalist groups, including Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal, justify their actions by claiming that “such raids help reassert a Hindu identity.”
Additionally, the release of the appeal for “Cow Hug Day” has also generated a response from political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, who said that the request is “absolutely crazy and defies logic.”
“This shows an eraser of one more line between the state and religion, which is very depressing. Now the state is doing what political and religious groups have been campaigning to do,” Mukhopadhyay added.
As a result of the public backlash, the board decided to withdraw its appeal on Friday in obedience to the government. “As directed by the competent authority and ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry, and dairying, the appeal issued by the AWBI for the celebration of Cow Hug Day on Feb. 14 stands withdrawn,” said S K Dutta, secretary of the board.
In sum, India’s Animal Welfare Board released an appeal urging citizens to celebrate “Cow Hug Day” instead of Valentine’s Day to reassert the Vedic Aryan tradition of worshiping cows as sacred animals and instilling traditional Hindu values. Still, it was met with public rejection on media platforms. The response from the public caused the board to withdraw the appeal.
In the end, the rise of western civilization has presented a conflict with following traditional customs and beliefs. As a result, it will require more than just appealing for a day where people hug cows for leaders to reach the general public and receive a positive response.
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