India has withdrawn its appeal to its citizens to hug cows on February 14 after widespread ridicule on social media.
The Animal Welfare Board of India on Wednesday had declared February 14 — celebrated the world over as Valentine’s Day — as Cow Hug Day after consulting the federal animal husbandry ministry.
It said that hugging the bovines will bring “emotional richness”, increasing individual and collective happiness.
But in a new notice on Friday, the advisory body withdrew the appeal, without giving any reason.
“As directed by the Competent Authority and Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, the appeal issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India for the celebration of Cow Hug Day on 14th February, 2023 stands withdrawn,” it said.
The board had earlier claimed that the "dazzle of western civilisation has made our physical culture and heritage almost forgotten", but did not explicitly mention Valentine’s Day.
The strange appeal attracted ridicule on social media where many made fun of the order.
Visuals on social media showed some members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party being injured while trying to embrace the animals in an attempt to encourage youth.
In another video, one man was violently hit by a cow as he tried to hug the animal.
Some members of right-wing Hindu groups, including Mr Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, previously denounced young couples for celebrating Valentine's Day and claimed such events were corrupting Indian culture.
Extremist groups in India have been known to attack couples in parks and restaurants, even forcing some to marry on the spot in an attempt to dissuade others from celebrating the global event.