For thousands of years the people of Nepal and India have celebrated the holy day of Shiva, Shivaratri, by partaking of the God’s sacred cannabis infused drink ‘Bhang’ or smoking chillums of hashish.
Shiva is the oldest continually worshipped God on Earth, and his celebrations are attended by millions of devotees. Cannabis use has always been an integral part of the worship of Shiva. http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/content/churning-ocean-milk
The following news stories detail the continuation of these ancient sacramental rites into modern times, despite considerable opposition due to Western influences.
In Nepal, bhang, hashish and other cannabis products were openly sold at the legendary Eden Hashish Centre in Katmandu, which was open for business from 1962 to 1973. http://www.420magazine.com/forums/random-420-photos/74332-antique-posters-eden-hashish-house-nepal.html
In late 1973 due to threats of the loss of foreign aid from the American administration of Richard Nixon Nepal was forced to outlaw hashish and marijuana.
Despite this, the popularity of cannabis products has never faded with the local population or tourists that flock to the area.
Write the Nepal ministry of Tourism, and tell them you would love to travel to their country, if only they would return to the days of legal cannabis products.
Young Hindu Nepalis celebrate Shiva smoking hashish and marijuana
by Kalpit Parajuli
More than 50,000 Hindus from Nepal and India celebrate Mahashivaratri, the ‘Great Night of Shiva’. Among the offerings are mind-altering drugs sold outside the main temple to adults and minors alike as the authorities stand indifferently by.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Some 50,000 Hindu pilgrims from Nepal and India gathered last Saturday in Kathmandu’s Pashaupatinath Temple to celebrate Mahashivaratri, the ‘great night of Shiva’. Worshippers, including teenagers, freely bought hashish and marijuana and immersed themselves in the polluted (and potentially infectious) waters of the Bagmati River.
Mahashivaratri is one of the most important festivals on the Hindu calendar. Thousands of pilgrims are drawn each year to the various shrines dedicated to the deity.
During the traditional adoration ritual, participants made offerings of food and incense whilst taking part in a day and night of fasting and vigil. Many smoked hashish and marijuana to honour the deity. Drug sellers did a brisk business as people, adults and teenagers lined up outside the temple to buy.
“This is the day of lord Shiva and we want to enjoy taking his favourite things,” said 16-year-old Nabin Shrestha. “This is not a drug but an offering to lord Shiva.”
Smoking the drugs is allowed inside the temple, but selling them outside is illegal. Yet, “We cannot control every illegal activity,” said Sushil Nahata, secretary of the Pashupati Area Development Trust. Hence, “We focused on better security rather than on stopping the drug trade.”
Drugs are not the festival’s only problem, pollution in the Bagmati River is another. The waterway runs near the temple and it is used by pilgrims for ritual cleansing. However, its waters are polluted according to the Health Ministry Secretary Shuda Sharma. “Those who immerse themselves in the water run the risk of catching diseases,” he said. “They could also spread them to the rest of the country.”
Despite these problems, many of Nepal’s political leaders are taking part in Shiva’s festival, including President Ram Baran Yadav, and former king Gyanendra Shaha, who was deposed in 2006 after a ten-year civil war.
“I prayed to Shiva [to help us solve]the country’s dramatic situation,” the president said as he left the temple. “May the god help all political leaders fulfil their duty to write the new constitution.”
Nepal is currently run by a coalition government, which has failed to draft a new constitution.
The current crisis began in May 2009 when then Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda resigned over the president’s failure to incorporate Maoist militias in the armed forces.
Under the terms of Nepal’s constitution enabling law, the new charter must be approved by all parties, including the Maoist party, within the next seven months, so as not to aggravate the country’s deep institutional and economic crises.
‘Bhang’ drinking session organised at Bikaner’s National Bhang Congregation
Bikaner, Feb 13 (ANI): Devotees of Lord Shiva indulged themselves in a ‘Bhang’ drinking session at National Bhang Congregation (NBC) in Bikaner here on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.
Buzz up!The Mahakaleswar Bhootnath Temple of the city organises the NBC every year and serves drinks made of milk, dry fruits, and ‘bhang’ (a traditional drink made from cannabis leaves.
Hari Ram Pandit, the priest of Bhootnath Temple said, “It is 32nd congregation in Mahakaleswar Bhootnath Temple. It is a unique festival in this part of the country. It is the country’s best Bhang Congregation.”
People from Banaras, Nagpur, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Madras etc. wait for the Bhang Congregation at Bhootnath Temple,” added Pandit.
The ‘Bhang’ has become an integral part of Indian tradition that has become a symbolic for many things.
Vimal Pandey, a local said, “The drink is made by mixing milk, holy water from the river Ganga, sugar and crushed dry fruits with the buds and leaves of cannabis paste made in a mortar with pestle.”
“People from the rest of the country enjoy the congregation and send message of ‘live and let others live’,” added Pandey.
The devotees consume ‘Bhang’ with the belief that it would help to concentrate in the worship of Lord Shiva.
Bhang has become synonymous with the festival of Maha Shivaratri.
It is a festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) of the month of Maagha or Phalguna in the Hindu calendar.
The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael (Bilva) leaves to Lord Shiva , all day fasting and an all night long vigil. (ANI
Devotees queue up at temples for hours on Shivratri
AHMEDABAD: It was 9 am. Radheshyam pushed his handcart in Satellite and headed towards a Shiv temple. He was not out early selling panipuris, but more heady, potent mix bhang. Several panipuri handcarts carrying a Shiv idol lined up to sell bhang to devotees on the occasion of Shivratri on Friday.
Shivratri festival drew huge crowds at the temples. Long queues were seen to offer milk and water to Lord Shiv. The main offering was billi patras. The wait at famous temples like Billeshwar Mahadev near Anandnagar, Vishwanath Mahadev in Shivanand Ashram, among others ranged between 30 and 90 minutes.
Even at small temples, the wait time was around 10 to 20 minutes. At the Chakudiya Mahadev in Gomtipur, it was as long as 40 minutes. Chetan Vyas, a resident of Satellite, waited in a queue which was nearly 2 km long at Billeswar Mahadev. “I got in after nearly 90 minutes,” he said.
Naga sadhus were seen less in number at their traditional haunt, Chakudiya Mahadev temple. One of the sadhus said that most of the nagas were at the Mahakumbh mela in Haridwar.
Shiv temples across the city resounded with tolling bells and chanting of Om Namah Shivay as devotees offered prayers with milk, honey and water. Kunal Shastri, a resident of Memnagar, says usually the priest allows any devotee to sit and offer prayers, but with the rush on Friday, people were ushered on with rare urgency. “We were able to just put our offerings and leave. This was after a wait of 20 minutes,” said Shastri who went to Kamnath Mahadev near St Xavier’s Loyola School.
Arun Oza, trustee of the Vishwanath temple, says the pooja continued till late in the night. Special bhajan programmes were also organised. For fasting devotees, roadside snack stalls had a wide, inviting array of food items.
Cannabis smoke dampens Shivaratri spirit
KATHMANDU: Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act forbids buying and selling of drugs in the country. The law can slap fines and an imprisonment of up to 20 years if convicted in drug related crimes.
But a site at the Pashupatinath Temple area today made a mockery of the law. It was but smoke and mirrors. The holy site of Hindus smoked round-the-clock. The breeze smelled the cannabis as far away as Mitrapark and Gaushala.
The police were mute spectators to the ugly scene where hundreds of ascetics, Sadhus and teenagers, male or female, were found to be shaken up by the puff of wild cannabis.
One could easily pass the ready-to-eat cannabis stalls. The cannabis vendors openly sold the mild drug either in loose or cigarette sticks.
Anyone who is found to be indulging in puffing cannabis shall be punished with an imprisonment of up to one month or a fine up to Rs 2,000. However, the buyers and sellers were let off the hook and were freely smoking the cannabis.
Mahashivaratri is the greatest festival of ascetics since Lord Shiva is himself believed to be an ascetic deity. Now the festival is no more popular with ascetics alone. The youngsters are being elated to the dark side of the festival day after day by resorting to cannabis and bhang.
Hundreds of youngsters flooded the temple premises and bought cannabis from the Sadhus and vendors.
With cannabis considered a holy offering of Lord Shiva, smoking the wild plant has become a customary practice among teenagers and the sadhus alike.
Govinda Tondon, a culture expert expressed a serious concern about the social malpractice. “Broad daylight dealing of cannabis between the Sadhus and the youngsters under the cover of once-a-year festivity shouldn’t be taken for granted. The law enforcement agency is required to be proactive.”
Sushil Nahata, member secretary, Pashupati Area Development Trust, admitted that they did not dare to fight the custom, but said police were keeping tight vigil on the public offences to prevent any untoward incident.
The police have busted a huge amount of cannabis from various places in the temple area and made dozens of arrests for allegedly causing inconvenience to the pilgrims.
Legalize Ganja for Nepal Tourism Year 2011
In two weeks Nepal will celebrate the festival of Shivaratri, Shiva’s night. It draws half a million worshippers and thousands of sadhus, India’s mendicant pilgrims who wander the Subcontinent from holy site to holy site and live on the offerings of the pious.
Bonfires burn all night, and so do the chillums of the sadhus, who smoke vast amounts of marijuana in emulation of Lord Shiva. Nepal’s government provides food and shelter for the pilgrims, and also, though this is not publicly acknowledged, their weed.
Nepal could boost tourism and revenues easily by extending this tradition to all. Cannabis Indica, ganja, is easily cultivated: its most important modern commercial products are marijuana and hashish. Marijuana’s medical benefits are accepted in the West, and a generation ago no one in Nepal questioned its recreational use. If Shiva and his sadhus can take ganja, why not tourists? Amsterdam’s experiment in decriminalizing soft drugs resulted in less crime and less use of hard drugs, without altering the happy and tolerant nature of the city or the Dutch people.
Nepal’s government should license a reasonable number of private companies to purchase, transport, and wholesale the stuff, and also issue licenses for sale and consumption on-premise to cafes and clubs that meet a minimum standard. Licenses should be granted at public auction, to maximize state revenue and minimize corruption.
The government could set a minimum retail price that undercuts the illegal street peddlers but yields substantial tax revenue, then let the market set the selling price based on the quality of the product. Production should be left to individuals, to spread the economic benefits most widely.
A limited number of distribution channels (perhaps 10) and a modest number of outlets (say 100 nationwide) would allow easy enforcement and regulation and also active competition. On-premise consumption rules would limit the “hippie effect” and encourage orderly behavior.
Tourism would boom. Forget about lowering visa fees! Increase them, and offer a multiple-entry six-month visa for $100 or more. Encourage people to come and stay and spend their money in Nepal over a longer time.
The business opportunities are great. Scores of new businesses, employing thousands of people would be set up. Spillover and service effects from those businesses would benefit others, and an increase in tourism overall would have a very wide effect. A rising tide lifts all boats.
A quick estimate suggests the treasury could earn several hundred million dollars per year from visa fees, license auctions, and taxes on the cannabis. Additional revenues from VAT and income taxes due to overall growth would be substantial.
In rural Nepal, cannabis would become an important cash crop. It’s easy to grow and yields up to one kilogram per square meter per year under intensive cultivation. A producer might get 25 percent of the retail price for a ready-to-market product, before taxes. That would amount to thousands of rupees per KG, even at a low government-mandated minimum price. Since cannabis is so easy to grow, competition would be about quality; and that would raise prices overall.
What’s to lose? With massive unemployment, declining investments and an impoverished countryside, let’s give it a try. Prohibit sales to minors and, if you like, to Nepalis also. Sell it in small quantities, and require consumption in licensed establishments only. Make public use a crime with heavy fines, to encourage consumption only in licensed establishments.
The possibilities are endless. If one “star” hotel has enough business to set up a specialty Gujerati vegetarian restaurant, maybe another would like to have a smoking lounge to attract tourists. With Indian gamblers staying home in droves, perhaps one of the casinos would bid for a ganja franchise to attract Europeans. If you’re a coffee shop or cyber cafe owner, do you realize just how many pastries and cookies really stoned people can eat?
Hash Brownie Everest Flight – need I say more?
New tourism destinations would open up for ganja tours. Three days in Kathmandu, then out to Ilam to go trekking and see the fields of cloned plants. Then three days’ bike tour to the hashish processing plants around Gorkha, and a final visit to the weekly farmers’ market, where the growers and licensed buyers haggle over sacks of buds and bricks of hashish.
The Nepal Tourism Board is aiming to double the number of visitors in 2011. If the government legalizes marijuana, it will be a cinch.
See you at Shivaratri!
John Child is The NewsBlaze Nepal Correspondent, a journalist in Kathmandu who writes about goings-on in and around Nepal and her neighbors.