More Bhang for Your Buck. High Times in Varanasi

bhang-lassi-6

Photo: Tom Maisey

I’d been curious about the use of mind altering agents in Indian culture for a while. Hippies had India firmly on their trail so I was guessing this was linked to the availability of substances that were illegal at home. Cannabis is technically illegal in India, but often deeply spiritual states of mind are achieved through it’s use. Rastafarian style.

Then, researching my upcoming trip to Varanasi I stubbed up on a drink that is very popular in the sacred city. It’s called Bhang.

According to Wikipedia “Bhang has been used in India since Vedic times, and is an integral part of North Indian culture. Sadhus and Sufis use bhang to boost meditation and to achieve transcendental states. Bhang or cannabis is also used amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy“.

“Anywhere on the ghats, one can find large number of men engaged in the process of preparing bhang. Using mortar and pestle, the buds and leaves of cannabis are ground into a paste. To this mixture, milk, gheeand spices are added. The bhang base is now ready to be made into a heavy drink, thandai, an alternative to alcohol; this is often referred to casually, if inaccurately[citation needed], as a “bhang thandai” and “bhang lassi“. Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make a purple halva, and into peppery, chewy little balls called ‘golee’ (which in this context means candy or pill in Hindi)”.

According to http://blog.aaobihar.com

“Associated with Lord Shiva, bhang has now become synonymous with holi. To the extent that bhang drinks have now become an official Holi drink.

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. Lip smacking thandai, pakoras and vadas, all having bhang as a very essential ingredient, are savoured by all on the day.

Bhang Preparations in Banaras

bhang
The tradition of consuming bhang on holi is particularly rampant in North India where holi itself is celebrated with a gusto unseen anywhere else. But, the hub of bhang is Varanasi or Banaras, the land of Shiva worship, 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 squashed and 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 nutritious, refreshing drink – Thandai, a healthy 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’. 

A Brief History of Bhang

Indian-Sadhu,-varanasi-2349

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 Artharvaveda, Bhang is described as a beneficial herb that “releases anxiety”. Bhang preparations were sacred to Gods, particularly Shiva. One of Shiva’s epithets was “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. Besides, Bhang or cannabis is also believed to be popular amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy since a long time.

Hot Buttered BhangRecipe

Ingredients
half a cube (1/8 pound) of butter or ghee
1/3 – 1/2 oz. Of Marijuana Leaves
8 ounces of Vodka
1-2 pinches Cardamom seed
honey

Method

In a pan, melt the butter or ghee. Break up the marijuana leaves into the pan. Once the butter and leaves are hot and sizzling, add in 8 ounces of vodka. Be careful that the hot butter doesn’t make the mixture splatter. Pour the Vodka in swiftly to avoid problems. Continue boiling the mixture for roughly 30 more seconds, stirring simultaneously. Add a pinch or two or powdered cardamom seed while boiling.

Once mixture has been boiled to desired amount, strain the fluids and mash the contents through a strainer. You should use a tool like a spoon to try and squeeze all the juices out. Throw away the mush, or reboil to try and bet more juices out. Pour the liquid into two 4 ounce wine glasses.

This Recipe serves two people. This is an extremely efficient method for extracting the THC. Add honey to taste and enjoy as a hot chocolate-esque Drink!

The effects of the recipe will be felt within 15 withings. Prepare to have a good time!

 

 

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