And while we don't know much more of what happened at these burial ceremonies, if we follow weed's growth, we can see how cannabis worked its way into many types of cultural practices across the world. One of its first stops was the Indian subcontinent, where it was met with enthusiasm. In his book High Points: An Historical Geography of Cannabis, historian and geographer Barney Warf explains, "India developed a continuing tradition of psychoactive cannabis cultivation, often with medicinal and religious overtones." He goes on to say that marijuana culture reached its "greatest efflorescence" in India.
Part of that excitement meant finding a new way to consume cannabis, this time in the form of bhang. Essentially you grind up weed leaves with a fat like butter or milk to create little round balls of bliss. From there, it can be spiced and added to food or drink. It's stronger than you think, and I have proof in the form of endless funny stories of traveling Westerners who think they can hang.
One of the most important gods of the Hindu religion, Shiva, is said to be something of a pothead himself, having brought the plant down from a mountain for the "benefit of mankind." Apparently, he figured out that smoking marijuana both relaxes the body and aids in meditation. I wonder if it helped with his Freshman philosophy class papers as well.
On Shiva's main festival night, Maha Shivratri, Hindus from all walks of life celebrate the God and partake of his hash habit. In Kathmandu, over one million people visit the city each year to participate in the festivities. Similar to the fantastically colorful holiday of Holi, during the holiday, marijuana use is everywhere. And based on a quick Google of the photos, pretty excessive in the best way.
Before we move on, now is a good time to note that while Rati is the goddess of sexual pleasure, Shiva, the God of all creation and destruction in Hindu mythology, is also known as "The God of Bhang." Nice.