Here’s how and why hemp in Hinduism fuels India’s weed-loving culture

In Hindu traditions, Shiva not only smoked weed but lived on it. Due to prohibition, Hindus around the world have been forced to give up the ancient traditions of marijuana

Every year in February, Hindus from India and Nepal sing, smoke, and celebrate Shiva in Kathmandu.

Cannabis has been used around the world for millennia. But perhaps no group in history shares the respect and admiration for the plant that Hindus do. The reason for his reverence is the Hindu deity, Shiva. For many Hindus, Shiva is the destroyer of evil, the transformer, and the god of cannabis.

Hinduism, like most religions, mixes philosophy, spirituality, and myth together. There are so many different types of Hinduism, that no two Hindus of similar faith are likely to meet.

Actually, there are many Gods in Hinduism, all these gods are a part of Brahman – the genderless principle of ultimate reality – as is Shiva. Shiva has a special place in religion apart from other deities.

Usually, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahman all make up the Trimurti, who ultimately represent all the forces that shape the universe. In Shaivism, a tradition within Hinduism, Shiva is the endless, formless body that other gods ultimately represent. Shiva too, apparently, really enjoys the grass.

Weeds have been growing for thousands of years in the areas where Hinduism developed. Hindu stories related to Shiva even talk about the origin of cannabis as something divine.

In a cannabis origin story, long before the creation of the universe, Shiva and other gods churned the great ocean of matter by making Amrita the medicine of eternal life. According to an ancient legend, some nectar used to drip on the earth and where it used to drip, cannabis plants grew from the soil.

Other stories describe Shiva sustaining himself using cannabis as food. And in age-old art, Shiva is often depicted drinking ganja from a chillum. In many depictions, Shiva is seen with half-closed eyes. Some say this because Shiva is deep in meditation, while others attribute it to the apparent effects of the grass.

Due to prohibition, Hindus around the world have been forced to give up the ancient traditions of marijuana.

Most of the Hindus in the world live in India or Nepal. Weeds grow naturally in both countries. Historically, no country had any formal laws against the possession or cultivation of marijuana. It was only in the 70s in Nepal and the 80s in India that local governments took steps to ban the deeply symbolic plant.

Today, both countries have confusing stances on marijuana. Since it grows naturally, it is difficult to deter people from using it in religious ceremonies. Some provinces of India have government stores that sell weed products, but not all.

Anyone selling or carrying weed can face harsh penalties, but anti-pot laws rarely apply. Grams run around $3 in the country. And reverence for cannabis and its connection to the sacred parts of life (i.e., festivals and celebrations) is still an integral part of the culture. (For all these reasons we recently ranked India as one of the best countries for marijuana in the world.)

Also Read in Hindi: यहां बताया गया है कि कैसे और क्यों हिंदू धर्म में भांग भारत की भांग-प्रेमी संस्कृति को बढ़ावा देता है

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