Valentine’s Day was allegedly rebranded as “Cow Hug Day” in India. Here’s what happened.

The majority-Hindu nation of India has revered cows for ages as a symbol of the gods and the Earth.

Indeed, the animals are so revered that officials had planned to rename this Valentine’s Day as “Cow Hug Day,” in the hopes that the move would both increase citizens’ “emotional richness” and strike a blow for local traditions over what is perceived as a western cultural import.

The action, however, seems to have backfired and been abandoned when it sparked an online meme, cartoon, and TV host joke flurry about the value of permission.

The Animal Welfare Board of India said Monday that February 14 would be observed as “Cow Hug Day” and referred to cows as the “backbone of Indian culture and rural economy.”

Due to its “nourishing character,” the cow is “the giver of everything, delivering wealth to humanity,” according to the agency, a statutory organization that provides advice to India’s Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy.

It said that the Western influence had weakened “Vedic,” or traditional Hindu customs, which are being promoted by the urge to hug cows.

The statement stated that “Vedic traditions are practically dead due to the advancement of (western) culture throughout time.” “The glitz of western civilization has almost completely lost our physical culture and heritage.”

But a week after the announcement, the concept seems to have been abandoned after days of online scorn and contempt.

Media sources have been making fun of the government’s plan for days by running satirical cartoons of cows escaping from lusty men, while internet users have taken great joy in posting clips of violent interactions between man and animal.

An anchor for NDTV, one of the top English-language news channels in India, was even caught on camera attempting to embrace numerous cows, but they looked to rebuff him.

He made a joke that “consent is crucial” during the scene.

Cattle science
As many Hindus, who make up around 80% of India’s 1.3 billion inhabitants, believe that killing or eating cows is sinful, the government’s actions toward them have caused controversy in the past.

A large portion of the country forbids the sale and slaughter of the animal, thus it is frequently abandoned to walk freely in the streets and on the roads, where it must be avoided by drivers.

The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA), an organization for cow protection, was established by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying in 2019.

On November 11, 2021, at the Gopal Ashtami celebration in Amritsar, Punjab, Hindu devotees offer prayers to a cow.
On November 11, 2021, at the Gopal Ashtami celebration in Amritsar, Punjab, Hindu devotees offer prayers to a cow.
Images by Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty
Two years later, after receiving harsh criticism for making unfounded claims about the animal, the RKA was obliged to put off a nationwide “cow science” exam indefinitely.

The 54-page exam study guide made a number of unsubstantiated assertions, one of which was that extensive abattoir activity causes significant earthquakes. This claim implied that the stress caused by mass slaughter may be sufficient to cause an earthquake.

Additionally, it claimed that when compared to “exotic cows,” native (Indian) cows provide milk of the highest quality.

A political creature
The animal has also grown more politicized after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ascent to office in 2014 on a wave of Hindu nationalism.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is closely associated with traditionalist Hindu beliefs, and detractors claim that cow worship has been employed as a tactic to terrorize, harass, and in some cases, murder Muslims who they believe to be disrespectful of the animals.

Human Rights Watch claims that since Modi gained office, authorities in India have disregarded or covered up crimes committed by cow vigilantes.

Near Bihar’s Saran district, in the village of Baniyapur, the men came under attack.
In India, three guys were beaten to death on account of cattle theft.
Modi pledged to put a halt to a “pink revolution” in his 2014 election campaign, which he used to refer to the slaughter of cattle.

Other BJP legislators have gone much further.

Vikram Saini, an elected official for the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, declared at a gathering in March 2017: “I had vowed that I will break the hands and legs of those who do not consider cows their mother and kill them.”

In a nation where headlines about violence against women and minorities are common, the words sparked outrage. Critics claim the government has a double standard and claim the BJP isn’t doing enough to safeguard disadvantaged groups.

A photo series of Indian women wearing cow masks taken by activist and photographer Sujatro Ghosh in 2017 quickly gained popularity on social media. The series of pictures was meant to represent a world where women are less valuable than cows.

Before it was canceled on Thursday, BJP legislator Giriraj Singh told reporters that the government had made “a very excellent decision” on “Hug a Cow Day.”

He said, “Cows ought to be hugged.” “We ought to adore and embrace the cow.”

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