Definitions

bhang ganjah

Bhang

[bang]

Bhang (ਭੰਗ, بھنگ, /pə̀ŋg/, ভাং, /bɦaŋ/) is the leaf and flower of a female Cannabis sativa plant, as consumed in the Indian subcontinent. It is more commonly consumed as a beverage, but is sometimes smoked.

Bhang Ki Thandai (Hindi) is a drink popular in many parts of India which is made by mixing bhang with thandai, a cold drink prepared with a mixture of almonds, spices, milk and sugar.

In traditional Indian culture

The traditional harvest and preparation of bhang coincides with the celebrations of Holi in March and Baisakhi in April.

Some erotic drawings from the Mughal era of India depict a couple having sexual intercourse while smoking bhang to enhance intimacy.

Associated with Lord Shiva, bhang has now become synonymous with Holi, to the extent that consuming the bhang drink at that time is a norm.

Culled from the leaves and buds of cannabis—the very intoxicating bhang helps to escalate the spirit of Holi—a festival which does not recognise any restrictions. Thandai, pakoras and vadas, all having bhang as a very essential ingredient, are savoured by all on the day.

In Nepal, on the day of Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri bhang is taken in different forms such as smoke, mixed with sweets and drink. Offering bhang to lord Shiva and then taking bhang is a tradition during the festival.

Sikhism

Nihang, an Indian equivalent of the Japanese Samurai, are traditionally very fond of Bhang, which they call Sukkha Prasad i.e. "Peace-Giver". In Sanskrit the word "Sukh" means Pleasure, Love and happiness while "Prasad" is an offering to god which god tasted and decided to share with the mass. So "Sukhka Prasad" literally means "love and happiness giving drink provided by God to the masses".

Preparation in Banaras

The tradition of consuming bhang during Holi is particularly common in North India where Holi itself is celebrated with a gusto unseen elsewhere. But the hub of bhang is Varanasi or Banaras, the land of Shiva, where bhang is prepared on its famous ghats.

Anywhere on the ghats, one can find large number of men engaged in the process of preparing bhang. Using mortar and a pestle, the buds and leaves of cannabis are ground into a green paste. To this mixture milk, ghee, and spices are added. The bhang base is now ready to be made into a heady drink, Thandai, an alternative to alcohol. Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make a tasty green halva, and into peppery, chewy little balls called 'golees'.

History

Bhang was first used as an intoxicant in India around 1000 BC and soon became an integral part of Hindu culture. In the ancient text Atharvaveda, Bhang is described as a beneficial herb that "releases anxiety". Bhang preparations were sacred to Gods, particularly Shiva. One of Shiva's epithets is "Lord of Bhang" as he is said to have discovered the transcendental properties of the mixture.

In imitation of Shiva, many sadhus use Bhang to boost meditation and achieve transcendental states. Bhang or cannabis is also believed to be popular amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy.

Culture

Ancient as it is, bhang has become so much an integral part of Indian tradition that it has become symbolic for many things.

It is associated with Lord Shiva, as the hemp plant is regarded as holy by the Hindus of North India. There is even a belief that to meet someone carrying bhang is an omen of success. And, if longing for hemp plant foretells happiness, to see it in dreams ensures prosperity for a person in future. Also, walking on a holy bhang leaf is believed to spell doom.

People believe in the medicinal properties of the hemp plant. If taken in proper quantity, bhang is believed to cure fever, dysentery and sunstroke, to clear phlegm, quicken digestion, appetite, cure speech imperfections and lisping, give alertness to the body. Native informants also claim that it produces a tingling sensation in the nape.

See also

References

External links

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