The Animal Welfare Board of India on Friday withdrew its appeal to mark Valentine’s Day as “Cow Hug Day” after it was widely ridiculed.

The board said that the decision was taken based on a direction issued by the “competent authority” and the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

The board had issued the appeal on February 6, claiming that hugging cows will “bring emotional richness” and will “increase our individual and collective happiness”.

The government advisory body had lamented that Vedic traditions are “almost on the verge of extinction” due to the progress of Western culture.

The animal welfare department asked cow lovers to celebrate February 14 as Cow Hug Day “keeping in mind the importance of mother cow and [to] make life happy and full of positive energy”.

For several years now, Valentine’s Day celebrations have faced opposition from religious conservatives in India. Attacks on couples by vigilante groups are often reported on the day.

In recent years, followers of jailed religious leader Asaram have also urged Indians to celebrate February 14 as Matri Pitru Pujan Diwas or Parents’ Worship Day.

The newly declared Cow Hug Day, intended to offset the “dazzle of western civilisation”, was ridiculed by social media users after the appeal came to light on February 8.