Animal Welfare Board of India withdraws appeal to observe ‘Cow Hug Day’ on Feb 14; reason unknown

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Representative Image / Photos: PTI, Mathrubhumi

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) on Friday withdrew its appeal to celebrate February 14 as ‘Cow Hug Day’. “As directed by the Competent Authority and Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying” the appeal issued by AWBI stands withdrawn, read the circular.

The earlier decision evoked mixed reactions on social media. The rationale behind the withdrawal of the appeal remains unknown.

Earlier, AWBI had appealed to citizens to mark Valentine’s Day this year not as a celebration of romance but as "Cow Hug Day” to better promote Hindu values.

AWBI on Wednesday said that “hugging cows will bring emotional richness and increase individual and collective happiness.”
Devout Hindus, who worship cows as holy, say the Western holiday goes against traditional Indian values.

In recent years, Hindu hardliners have raided shops in Indian cities, burned cards and gifts, and chased hand-holding couples out of restaurants and parks, saying that Valentine’s Day promotes promiscuity. Hardline political groups like Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal say such actions pave the way to reassert Hindu identity.

Young educated Indians irrespective of their religion typically spend the holiday crowding parks and restaurants, exchanging gifts and holding parties to celebrate like any other Indian festival, especially since India began the process of economic liberalization in the early 1990s.

The Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing a Hindu agenda, seeking supremacy of the religion at the expense of a secular nation known for its diversity. Hindus comprise nearly 80% of its nearly 1.4 billion people. Muslims account for 14%, while Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains account for most of the remaining 6%.

The cow has long been embedded in the Hindu psyche and is deeply respected by many similar to one’s mother. Most states in India have banned cow slaughter. The animal welfare board's appeal asked people to go out and physically hug cows on Feb. 14.

With AP inputs

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