It’s that time of the year when loud cries of “Holi Hai” are in the air and Bhang is flowing as high as cloud nine. People are wearing the colours of life on their sleeves and getting carefree – After all, Holi is the festival of colours.
The tradition of consuming Bhang on Holi is particularly prevalent in North India, where Holi itself is celebrated in a sterling manner. Bhang is a preparation of cannabis, traditionally used in food and drink. Using a mortar and pestle, the buds and leaves of the cannabis are ground into a paste.
Milk, ghee and spices are then added to this mixture. The Bhang base is now converted into a heavy drink commonly known as Thandai. Bhang may also be mixed with ghee and sugar to make a purple halva or into peppery, chewy little balls called ‘Golee’.
Bhang was first used as an intoxicant in India around 1000 BC and soon became an integral part of the Hindu culture. In the ancient text Artharvaveda, Bhang is described as a beneficial herb that “releases anxiety”. Bhang preparations were sacred to Gods, particularly to Lord Shiva.
One of Shiva’s epithets was “Lord of Bhang” – as he is said to have discovered the transcendental properties of this mixture. However, the hub of Bhang is Benaras. This is also the land of Shiva worshippers, and Bhang here is prepared at its famous ghats. Associated with Lord Shiva, Bhang has now become synonymous with Holi. This has gone to the extent that the Bhang drink has now become an official Holi drink.
Fun Fact: In places like Rajasthan, Benaras and Lucknow you can find Bhang almost everywhere. However, in Assam and Maharashtra it is prohibited to consume any form of marijuana. As far as us Delhites are concerned eventhough Bhang is not legal, we do manage to procure it somehow. 😉
So gear up guys!
WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY HOLI!!
Written By: Kusha Saini