Cow-hugging might be on its way to being one of the world's wellness trends -- some farms in the Netherlands, the U.K., Switzerland, and the U.S. are already offering sessions of relaxing cow cuddles, and now, an NGO in Gurugram, India is also on its way to opening a cow-cuddling center, India Times reports.
The cow-cuddling therapy by Kamdhenu Gowdham and Arogya Sansthan is designed to be the most comforting getaway for those stressed from busy city life and looking for alternative therapies to ease their minds. The therapy includes petting and massaging the cow, hugging, and sitting with it, and the main goal is "to cuddle a cow and forget all your problems," per a press release.
The NGO, led by retired IAS officer and ex-Chairman of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) SP Gupta, claims cuddling a cow can cure some health diseases and can give a person a healthy mind with many other benefits. The statement reads, "Cow cuddling not only cures respiratory diseases, blood pressure, spinal pain, heart problem, depression but also sadness, anxiety and all kinds of tensions."
However, Sachin Deol, Project Engineer stated that positive results cannot be guaranteed since "every human body reacts differently," in an interview with The Logical Indian.
Is there science behind it?
In many other countries, this wholesome pastime is believed to increase positive feelings and reduce stress. The experience boosts oxytocin in humans which is a hormone released during social bonding. We all know how calming it can be to cuddle with a cat or a dog, and that feeling seems to increase when hugging a larger animal, BBC reports.
Moreover, it seems like the feeling is mutual. While cows admittedly don't have problems such as a job, endless meetings, and traffic, they do enjoy a good hug and massage when they can get one, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science. The study states that cows seem to enter a state of deep relaxation when their neck areas and upper back are petted.
"As a psychologist and someone who herself experienced it, being with cows is extremely therapeutic," says Dr. Ritu Dangwal, associate professor at NIIT University, who regularly goes to the animal shelter in Sadgrana, Gurugram to experience such therapy, as reported by India Today. "We are stuck in a rat race and our anxiety is at an all-time high. Being with an emotive animal, one that has no judgment and loves unconditionally does wonders. The warmth and surrender you feel with them is more healing than any counseling session."