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Celebrate Valentine’s Day by ‘hugging a cow,’ urges govt

Bovine hugging will bring ‘emotional richness,’ increase ‘individual and collective happiness,’ says Animal Welfare Board in website notice
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Representational image
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Paran Balakrishnan   |   Published 08.02.23, 07:47 PM

The government is urging Indians to mark Valentine’s Day as “Cow Hug Day.” 

“In view of the immense benefit of the cow, hugging with cow will bring emotional richness, hence will increase our individual and collective happiness,” said the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) which falls under the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.


The AWBI suggests that February 14, marked by many people around the world as a special day for love and romance, should instead celebrate cows as they form the backbone of India’s society and economy.The board says hugging a cow would help save Vedic traditions. “We all know that the Cow is the backbone of Indian culture and rural economy (and)sustains our life” but “Vedic traditions are almost on the verge of extinction due to the progress of west (sic) culture,” the board said in a notice on its website.

Bovine bonding may also be a way to rebrand Valentine’s Day to suit Indian traditions. “The dazzle of western civilization has made our physical culture and heritage almost forgotten.”  

“That’s why all cow lovers may also celebrate the February 14 as Cow Hug Day, keeping in mind the importance of mother cow,” the board said and added that the cow, “is known as “Kamdhenu” and “Gaumata” because of its nourishing nature like mother, the giver of all providing riches to humanity.”

Valentine’s Day, celebrated in the name of the Christian saint known as Saint Valentine, has long been a subject of controversy in this country with hardline Hindus labelling it “indecent”.

Interestingly, the West may already be one step ahead of the Animal Welfare Board in advocating cow hugging.

“Cow therapy” has become a “wellness” trend and a popular form of relieving stress and depression in some countries like the US and in Europe.

In the Netherlands, it’s called “koe knuffelen” which translates as “cow hugging.” and it’s based on the reported therapeutic effects of a cuddle between humans and animals. 

The BBC reported that the cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat and large size can make hugging them an “incredibly soothing experience” for some people.

Advocates of cow cuddling say it reduces stress and promotes positivity by increasing in humans the so-called happiness hormone known as oxytocin. The larger the animal, the bigger the calming effects, according to proponents.

In the US, farms sanctuaries offer cow hug therapies to make people who are low feel a little bit better. Many offer one-hour sessions where you can cuddle, stroke or “hang out” with a cow at a barn.

There are also studies that suggest hugging cows and other animals may help mental wellness. “Animal-assisted therapy with farm animals for humans with psychiatric disorders may reduce depression and state anxiety, and increase self-efficacy, in many participants,” noted a Norwegian university study in 2011.

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