In a bizarre move, the Indian government has urged citizens to celebrate ‘Cow Hug Day’ instead of the usual Valentine’s Day on February 14 in a so-called move to boost traditional Indian values and offset ‘dazzle of western civilization’.
The 14th of February has been proclaimed Cow Hug Day, when people are urged to embrace the animals. Hinduism, the country’s dominant religion, regards cows as sacred, and are revered all over India.
According to the government statement, hugging a cow “will bring emotional richness” and “will increase our individual and collective happiness”.
Valentine’s Day, which began as a Christian feast day, has grown in popularity among young people over the past ten years as India’s economy has opened up. This popularity has been fueled by aggressive mass marketing campaigns that feature flower bouquets, teddy bears, heart-shaped gifts, and flamboyant romantic gestures.
Cow Hug Day is the latest initiative by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government, led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, to make reverence of the cow a nationwide policy. Most states in India ban the slaughter of cows, and selling and eating beef is banned in many places across the country, including the capital, Delhi.