India’s Big Bhang Party the Holi Festival

For millennia, copious amounts of the cannabis beverage “bhang” have been consumed at the Hindu Holi Celebration, also called the Festival of Colours, which is a popular Hindu spring festival observed in India, Nepal, Srilanka, and other countries with large Hindu diaspora populations. In these celebrations thousands of participants drink bhanga and playfully throw colored paint on each other in a celebration of fertility, life and joy. Here are some recent news stories about Holi bhang use.


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Bhang recipe

Ingredients:

• 2-3 tsp ground cannabis
• 2 Cups warm whole milk
• 1/2 Cup sugar
• 4 tbsp Almonds, chopped
• 1/8 tsp Ginger, powdered
• 1 Pinch garam masala
Procedure:

• Bring water to a boil in a teapot and add cannabis to it.
• Brew for about 7 to 10 minutes, then strain. Allow to cool.
• Gradually grind the strained cannabis along with 2 tbsp of milk, repeat this process several times.
• Strain the milk into another bowl and keep aside.
• Add a little more milk to the cannabis and grind it along with the almonds, repeat this several times.
• Remove the cannabis and pour the milk into a container.
• Combine ginger, sugar, and garam masala with it, keep stirring.
• Serve Chilled.

For Holi and health, there’s bhang!

from The Times of India

Holi is around the corner and so are ‘bhang thandai’ and ‘bhang pakoras’! But not everyone knows of the enormous health benefits of bhang – known as cannabis sativa in medical language – that is widely used in ayurvedic treatments.

“The use of cannabis sativa in ayurveda varies according to the symptoms and causes of the disease. Once we identify the problem, it is combined with other herbs to treat the disease,” said Geetanjali Arora, a panchakarma expert.

Cannabis is used for a multitude of ailments such as pain, nausea and vomiting, weight loss associated with debilitating disease and neurologically induced spasticity . If taken in proper quantities, it has been found to cure fever, dysentery and sunstroke, clear phlegm, quicken digestion and appetite.

Many medical conditions respond favourably to it, such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety and others. It has also shown promise in treating skin problems.

“Many people suffer from roughing or cracking of skin and it has been found that the application of the paste of the fresh leaves helps in recovery,” said Vipin Sharma, an ayurvedic expert.

In many parts of the country, people consume bhang before their main meal because they believe it not only enhances the taste of the food, it also improves digestion.

While it is said that cannabis helps cure speech imperfections and lisping, the mechanism is unclear. But it has indeed been found to improve hearing power.

“Increasing exposure to noise pollution often impairs people’s hearing capacity and it has been shown that regular use of this particular medicinal plant leads to improvement,” said Sharma.

The seeds of the plant are not narcotic and its infusion is beneficial in gonorrhoea.

Moreover, the juice of the Indian hemp can remove dandruff and head lice.

The history of bhang lies in Hindu mythology and its preparations were sacred to gods, particularly Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the “Lord of Bhang”. He is said to have discovered the transcendental properties of the mixture.

In 1000 BC, bhang was used as an intoxicant in India and Atharvaveda describes it as a healthy herb that “releases anxiety”.

Sadhus usually consume bhang to boost meditation and achieve transcendental states. It was also said to be popular among Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy.

The traditional recipe for bhang is simple – first soak leaves in water and grind them into a fine paste and mixing that with spices. When the paste is blended with milk, it is known as thandai.

At the same time, one should not forget that too much bhang can be harmful. It can cause psychosis, increase the heart rate and blood pressure.


Enjoy Bhang at Begum Bazaar

by Sohini Chakravorty, Express Buzz

Bhang, the drink patronised by Lord Shiva is the same drink with which Amitabh Bacchan tried wooing Rekha on screen in the ever green song Rang Barse in Silsila, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2PzxjTFGn0 it is also the official drink of Holi.

Bhang, which is prepared from the leaves and buds of the female cannabis plant, has become synonymous with Holi. Bhang that is otherwise hard to get in the city and banned, somehow finds a place in many household as part of the holi celebrations.

Begum Bazaar the commerce center of the city has a variety of shops selling bhang clandestinly during this time of the year. Additionally, there are plenty of families that get their bhang supply for Holi from places outside the state.

“Drinking Bhang is one of our Holi customs.

But we get the Bhang, which comes in the form of small round tablets from Bidar. Apart from the bhang thandai, bhang kachoris are also very popular in my family,” says Prakash Soni, a businessman.

Even though Begum Bazaar is a popular destination for Bhang in the city, it is sold only to the regular patrons of the shop. Sometimes the bhang thandai are served for free to friends and relatives as a part of the Holi celebrations.

“We have been celebrating Holi with Bhang for the past 30 years. We get the marijuana leaves, dry them and make it a powder. Then we mix it with water to make it a paste,” explains Kamal Kishore, who insisted that he doesn’t use bhang for money and it is only for celebrations. “When relatives and friends come over to our house for Holi we offer them bhang,” he adds.

Explaining the process of making bhang thandai, Kamal Kishore says, “Bhang along with almonds and pistachios and a glass of milk is enough to give you a high. It takes about half an hour to one hour for its effect to set in.” The bright and varied colors of Holi and the intoxicating euphoria of Bhang and the festive spirit in the air combined together is what reminds one of the lyrics of the evergreen Amitabh Bacchan’s Holi song from Silsila Rang barse bheege chunar wali, rang barse Are kaine maari pichkaari tori bheegi angiya O rangrasia rangrasia.


Holi – Festivities, Fun & Colours

from My Bangalore

The festival of colours Holi is around the corner. Celebrated across the nation on March 1st, My Bangalore finds out the significance and rituals of the festival.

The colours of Holi display the vitality of spring, the liveliness of life and a celebration of the richness of harvest. The festival arrives when winter fades away and spring adds fresh colours in nature. If one looks around now, the city is blooming with beautiful flowers in all its grandeur. Though it’s a reason to party, and revel in the high of ‘bhang’ for all the “urban population”, the spirit of Holi is seen when you look around for barely recognizable faces, drenched in colour, hair in disarray, but their spirits soaked in the joyful essence of the festival.

In India, the most celebrated Holi is that of the Braj region, in locations connected to Lord Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon, and Barsana. These places have become tourist destinations during the festive season of Holi, which lasts here to up to sixteen days. The main day, Holi, also known as Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. Bonfires are lit the day before, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in Andhra Pradesh.

Legend also says that, Holi was celebrated n Vrindavan and Mathura, where Lord Krishna grew up. The festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna). Lord Krishna is believed to have popularized the festival by playing pranks on the gopis here. Krishna is believed to have complained to his mother about the contrast between his dark skin complexion and Radha’s fair skin complexion. Krishna’s mother decided to apply colour to Radha’s face. The celebrations officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love.

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), Phalgun, which usually falls in the later part of February or March. In 2009, Holi was on March 11 and Holika Dahan was on March 10. Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colors.

Bhang is a preparation from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the female cannabis plant. The traditional harvest and preparation of bhang occurs during the celebrations of Holi in March and Vaisakhi in April, hence associated with Lord Shiva. It has now become synonymous with Holi, to the point where consuming bhang at that time is standard practice.

The tradition of consuming bhang during Holi is particularly common in North India where Holi itself is celebrated with a fervour unseen elsewhere. Bhang is heavily consumed in Mathura. Here, it is believed to have been introduced by the followers of Lord Krishna and has stayed over here since. Unknown to a lot of people, bhang has enormous medical benefits. Cannabis is used for a multitude of ailments such as pain, nausea and vomiting; weight loss associated with debilitating disease and neurologically induced spasticity. If taken in proper quantities, it has been found to cure fever, dysentery and sunstroke, clear phlegm, quicken digestion and appetite.

Many medical conditions respond favourably to it, such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety and others. It has also shown promise in treating skin problems. Do play safe this Holi.

Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett has been researching the historical role of cannabis in magic and religion for over a quarter century, his books include 'Green Gold the tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion' (1995); 'Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible' (2001); 'Cannabis and the Soma Solution' (2010. He Currently resides in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where he runs his ethnobotanical shop The Urban Shaman.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. bhangman on

    Holy Holi Bhangman, that is colorfully cool!