Marijuana is exctracted from the leaves and flowering tops of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. This plant grows in mild climates throughout the world including mainly parts of India, Africa, Mexico, South America, and the United States. In its prepared state, marijuana consists chiefly of the dried green leaves. It is normally smoked in form of cigarettes or in pipes and is also known as “joints”, “stash”,” weed” etc. In some cultures, the leaves are steeped in hot water and the liquid is drunk, much as one might drink tea, generally in India. Hashish, which is derived from the resin exuded by the cannabis plant and make into a gummy power. Hashish, like marijuana, is smoked. The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Both marijuana use and hashish use can be traced far back into history. Cannabis was apparently known in ancient China and India. Cannabis was listed in the herbal compendiums of the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, written about 2737 B.C, and in “Atharva Veda” in India estimated to have been written around 2000 B.C-1500B.C, which mentions cannabis as one of the “five sacred Plant”.
Hindus of India and Nepal from thousands of years use cannabis in religious festivals. Cannabis plant is called Bhang, and leaves of Bhang are use in the worship of god “Shiva”. Bhang is offered to “Shiva”, also consumed as gift of “Shiva” (Prasad). Bhang consumed as a fried food, drinks made with water and milk especially on Shivratri festival and Holi festival, however consuming Bhang without rite is considered a sin. Shaivite yogis (Shiva devotee) smoke ganja- consists of the leaves and the plant top and hashish (charas) in the form of cigarette or use special clay pipe called chillum.
Bhang has become an integral part of tradition and custom in the Indian subcontinent. It has become symbolic for many things as it is associated with Lord Shiva.
In some sections of rural India, people believe in the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. If taken in proper quantity, bhang is believed to cure fever, dysentery and sunstroke, to clear phlegm, aide digestion, appetite, cure speech imperfections and lisping, and give alertness to the body.Bhang lassi is a preparation of powdered green inflorescence with curd and whey put in a village blender (a hand blending operation is carried out till the butter rises). It is regarded as tasty and greatly refreshing, with one or two large glasses having little effect. Bhang goli, on the other hand, hits after approximately two hours, sending one into a dreamlike state.
The tradition of consuming bhang during Holi is particularly common in North India where Holi itself is celebrated with a fervor unseen elsewhere. Bhang is heavily consumed in Mathura, an ancient town of religious importance to the Hindus. Here the practice is believed to have been introduced by the followers of Lord Krishna and has stayed ever since. They begin the preparation by Sanskrit chants and recitation of prayers to Lord Shiva. Some people from Mathura take Bhang to work up their appetite while others do it to relieve themselves of stress. But the hub of bhang use is Varanasi or Banaras, the Land of Shiva, where the bhang is prepared on its famous ghats.
- Medical Marijuana: Differences Between Cannabis Sativa & Indica (ireport.cnn.com)