The people of India have always been fascinated by the holy cow, accredited to its divine significance in the Hindu scriptures. There are some bizarre myths associated with this creature, where some individuals go on to claim that cancer can be cured with cow urine, while others assert that breathing problems can be cured by massaging it.
Recently, we witness a new practice that has gained the limelight. The trend of ‘cow hugging’ that claims to be a calming experience is the latest one to hop onto the list.
Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Let's find out!
In the Danish language, ‘Koe Knuffelen’ literally means cow hugging and it has been a therapeutic self-care practice by the dutch for over ten years. The act of hugging this mammal stems from the belief that it induces healing properties through a human to animal connection and touch. It is believed to reduce stress and promote a sense of positive feelings by speeding up the production of oxytocin, the hormone which is released to form social bodings. This process is supposed to bring about the serenity that gives humans a similar experience to when they cuddle with their pets.
The BBC reported that “Cow cuddlers typically start by taking a tour of the farm before resting against one of the cows for two to three hours. The cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat, and mammoth size can make hugging them an incredibly soothing experience, and giving the animal a backrub, reclining against them or even getting licked is all part of the therapeutic encounter.”
“This wholesome pastime emerged in rural Dutch provinces more than a decade ago and is now part of a wider Dutch movement to bring people closer to nature and country life. Today, farms in Rotterdam, Switzerland and even the United States are offering cow-hugging sessions and promoting the activity’s joy-inducing, stress-busting properties” they further noted.
A study published in the Journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science titled ‘Cow pats help cattle relax’ revolves around how domesticated animals display signs of pleasure and relaxation when people rub, massage or pet them. The researchers observed, “This suggests that cows may in part perceive human stroking of body regions often-licked similarly to social licking”. However, the researchers probed that this concept is also applicable to cats, dogs, rats, and various farm animals.
The study further went on to monitor the heart rates of cows. It remarked, “cows stretched out their necks and let their ears fall, signs of deep relaxation when stroked in parts of the upper back and the neck areas that cows often reach when they lick each other”.
In the Indian context, India Today reported, “on a popular Facebook conversation series, Gyan Ganga, sitar player and composer Pandit Shubhendra Rao, member of parliament Maneka Gandhi and Ashwini Guruji of Dhyan Ashram spoke about this similar practice and how if you hug a desi cow breed, it can lead to the cleansing of the body as a whole.”
Today, we live in a world that has caught us in a spiral of stress and turmoil, and all of us are badly craving an escape. With hectic work schedules that give us no time for any retreat, some resort to simple pleasures, while some feel employing such innovative techniques like cow hugging can provide them with a sense of calm and serenity.