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Holi, also known as the festival of colors. The two-day Hindu new year celebrations start with a bonfire to pray away evil. The next morning, the streets turn into a battle field as kids and gleeful adults hurl water balloons off balconies, squirt water guns and swipe colorful powders on anyone within range. In the spirit of Holi, no one is off limits.

In the same spirit, some traditional Holi drinks and sweets contain bhang, a potent paste of crushed cannabis leaves and buds. Depending on the region of India, bhang is added to everything from gujiya (fried dumpling sweets) and pakora (fried chickpea flour pockets of onion or potato) to lassi (a yogurt-based drink) or thandai (a blend of crushed dried fruits, nuts, sugar and spices in a milk base). You can also eat bhang straight as goli, a ball of crushed leaves and water with or without sugar and spices.

The Vedas teach that the gods compassionately gave cannabis to humans to relieve our anxiety and fear and give us more joy.

Lord Shiva, part of the Hindu trinity and god of destruction and transformation, is often depicted with long, knotted hair or a top knot bun, smoking marijuana or drinking bhang. According to his legend, Shiva fell asleep under a cannabis plant after a heated argument with his family and then woke up feeling fresh and peaceful. So cannabis became Lord Shiva’s favorite pastime.

Another legend says that gods and demons stirred up the ocean to create a drink of immortality, but doing so created a deadly poison. Shiva drank the poison to save everyone (similar to Jesus), and was offered bhang to recover.

Today, many Shiva followers worship him by smoking marijuana, which the Indian government allows for true religious intent. Shiva sadhus, or self-imposed ascetic monks, can sometimes be seen sitting cross-legged on sidewalks, often half draped in saffron robes and dreadlocks, smoking pot.

It’s also believed that Shiva went to the Himalayas to meditate, where marijuana is more abundant.

Today Teneweedfe will be celebrating Holi by drinking bhang in the form of lassi. For more information or to take part, come and see us today at 4.20!

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