Marijuana Spiritual Tea: Bhang Versus Bong
It’s April 20th, 4/20, the official Weed Day for many Americans. With many celebrations occurring today, public or private, it’s inevitable that the proverbial munchies might kick in and when they do, I’ve got your food for thought. In the past decade, marijuana has become widely accepted in the United States for medicinal purpose, but what about it’s international spiritual role?
Hindu followers of Shiva, the destroyer of evil, believe that bhang is a sister of Mother Ganges-referring to the holy Ganges River. Bhang is a spiritual beverage made from the female cannabis leaves and flowers, milk, almond and rose water. It is consumed to “aid in spiritual ecstasty” and allows its consumers to reach higher levels of consciousness during meditation. Bathing in the Ganges and paying tribute to all that she supplies is a daily tradition in India, as is consuming bhang. Consuming bhang is a considered a way to pay respect to the wonders of our natural surroundings and all that they give us. In return, the healing powers of bhang aid in curing ailments from nausea, sunstroke, fever and indigestion. Sound familiar? Much like the benefits of medicinal cannabis being prescribed into bongs today.
When the word bong is mentioned, I’m sure we all have a mental picture of what this device looks like, but have you ever heard the word bhang? After a life changing trip to India in 2014, I came to realize the level of respect that Hindus have for cannabis. Many times after a meal, I was offered a leaf of some sort that helped aid in my digestion. Little did I know what I was being offered. In many parts of India and Nepal in early Spring, bhang is widely consumed during the Holi Festival: a multi-day festival celebrating good over bad and recognizing the positivity in building and renewing relationships.
Much like a modern day music festival, Holi Festival starts with the lighting of a bonfire, followed the next morning with an all-day colour festival in which Hindus consume bhang together and visit family and friends to paint them in vibrant colors of clay powder. The similarities are uncanny to music festivals here in the U.S., especially Sweetwater 420 Festival, celebrating music, marijuana and memorable moments with friends-another cross-cultural similarity!
Being the product of an American-Indian high school love affair, it brightens my day to bring you this historical food for thought that merges my two ethnic cultures and the spiritual use of cannabis on today’s special holiday. Whether it be bong or bhang, take some time today to hug a friend, respect nature and be colorful. It’s the perfect day to do so! Namaste.