India Declares Feb. 14 'Cow Hug Day'

Government says 'dazzle of western civilization' is eroding Hindu traditions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2023 8:51 AM CST
India Declares Feb. 14 'Cow Hug Day'
A woman hugs a cow as Hindus offer prayers to the River Ganges during the Ganga Dussehra festival in Allahabad, India.   (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)

India's Hindu nationalist government is urging the country's 1.4 billion people to turn their backs on Valentine's Day and hug a cow on February 14 instead. In a statement issued earlier this month announcing "Cow Hug Day," India's government-run Animal Welfare Board said "hugging cows will bring emotional richness and increase individual and collective happiness." The board said Hindu traditions were endangered by the "dazzle of western civilization," the Guardian reports. Valentine's Day has become increasingly popular in India in recent years, but Hindu hardliners have been trying to stop its spread by attacking stores selling Valentine's cards and chasing couples seen holding hands in parks and restaurants, the AP reports.

Anti-Valentine's Day rhetoric has largely been "targeted at women, alleging that the holiday encourages female promiscuity and vulgar behavior," the Guardian notes. Hindus, who consider cows sacred, make up around 80% of India's population and critics say "Cow Hug Day" is another step away from secularism, Al Jazeera reports. "The unfortunate part is this has now official sanction,” says political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay. "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 says the Cow Hug Day initiative is "absolutely crazy and defies logic." The move has been widely ridiculed online. "Have the cows gotten the memo about Cow Hug Day on 14th Feb?" tweeted stand-up comedian Kajol Srinivasan. "I'm willing to do it, but please declare Free Hospitalization Day on 15th Feb." (More India stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.