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India urges people to ditch ‘western’ Valentine’s Day and announces February 14th is now Cow Hug Day

  • Campaign by government supposed to counteract ‘dazzle of western civilisation’
  • Hugging cow ‘will bring emotional richness’ and ‘increase happiness’

India has urged people to ditch ‘western’ Valentine’s Day, announcing that February 14 is now Cow Hug Day.

In a new appeal, the Indian government has declared February 14 as Cow Hug Day to embrace the animal, which is considered holy and sacred within Hinduism, the biggest religion in India.  

Hugging a cow ‘will bring emotional richness’ and ‘will increase our individual and collective happiness’, a government statement reads according to The Guardian

Renaming February 14 is also intended to counteract the ‘dazzle of western civilisation’ which the government fears comes at the expense of older Indian traditions. 

Valentine’s Day has become a popular occasion among young people over the last ten years – a trend boosted by intense marketing campaigns for flowers, teddy bears, heart-shaped gifts and even romantic gestures to surprise one’s Valentine with. 

At the same time, Hindu nationalist politics have gained support in India and ‘western’ holidays – as well as traditions like Valentine’s Day – have attracted criticism for promoting ‘corrupt values’.

Shops selling Valentine’s cards and decorations have been attacked by Right-wing vigilante groups, who also targeted couples as they were holding hands. 

Those groups often engage in the moral policing of women – and the criticism of Valentine’s Day is no different.

Following their rhetoric, the holiday encourages female promiscuity and flamboyant behaviour. 

The Cow Hug Day is the latest attempt by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi to reference the ‘holy’ cow in an India-wide policy. 

Most states in India already ban slaughtering cows as they are considered by many to be sacred, and selling as well as eating beef is also banned in many places in India, including the capital Delhi. 

This isn’t the first time the cow has been included in a national matter: the National Cow Commission devised a proposed nationwide exam on the subject of ‘cow science’ as part of the BJP’s amended curriculum.

This was postponed in 2021 as it was accused of promoting religious pseudoscience about India’s cows. 

These claims include that Indian cows have more emotions than their foreign counterparts, that their humps have magical powers or that their dung could even prevent radiation, according to The Guardian. 

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