According to wikipedia, bhang is an edible preparation made from the leaves of the cannabis plant originating from the Indian subcontinent. As with many herbs, bhang can be traced back to its ancient roots as early as 1000 BC, used in food and drinks in India. Bhang is traditionally distributed during the spring festival of Maha Shivaratri and Holi.
Western Documentation [taken off Wikipedia]
Garcia de Orta, a Portuguese Jewish physician based in Goa, wrote extensively on bangue in his Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India (1563), including its recreational use by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and by many Portuguese. He explicitly rejected the notion of the Indian plant that produces bangue being the same as the European hemp plant (alcanave).
In 1596, a Dutchman, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, wrote three pages on “Bangue” in a work documenting his journeys in the East. He also mentioned the Egyptian hashish, the Turkish boza, Turkish bernavi and the Arabic bursj forms of consumption. Despite the other accounts, the contemporary historian Richard Davenport-Hines lists the late-17th-century and early-18th-century British adventurer Thomas Bowrey as the first Westerner to document the use of bhang.
Using mortar and pestle, the leaves of cannabis are ground into a paste which can be added to foods. For a beverage it is mixed with milk and filtered, then often flavored with kusha grass, sugar, fruit, and various spices. In Mathura it can be found in bhang thandai and bhang lassi. Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make a purple halva, and into peppery, chewy little balls called goli (which means “tablet” as well as “pill”) in Hindi. Another form is bhang chutney also called ‘bhangeera ki chutney’, a dish served in Kumaoni cuisine from Uttarakhand. It is made from grinding cannabis/bhang seeds with mint, tomatoes and different spices.
Bhang is part of the ancient Hindu tradition and custom in the Indian subcontinent. In some parts of rural India, people attribute various medicinal properties to the cannabis plant. If taken in proper quantity, bhang is believed to cure fever, dysentery, and sunstroke, to clear phlegm, aid in digestion, increase appetite, cure speech imperfections and lisping, and give alertness to the body.
The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was the first ever international treaty to have included cannabis (or marijuana) with other drugs and imposed a blanket ban on their production and supply except for medicinal and research purposes. However, the Single Convention’s definition of ‘cannabis’ does not include the leaves of the cannabis plant, thereby preserving the legality of bhang culture in India.
Regardless, as bhang has served such an important role in India’s culture and spiritual practices, it would be impossible to criminalize cannabis completely in the country. Important festivals such as Holi and Maha Shivratri have traditionally seen people consume bhang during various local festivities. Cultivation of cannabis is government regulated.
According to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985:
“cannabis (hemp)” means-
(a) charas, that is, the separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant and also includes concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish;
(b) ganja, that is, the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops), by whatever name they may be known or designated; and
(c) any mixture, with or without any neutral material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink prepared therefrom.
As bhang is prepared from the seeds and the leaves of the Cannabis plant, it is not banned under the NDPS Act of 1985. However, some states do regulate and ban the sale and consumption of bhang. Bhang can also be used in the form of medicine if the patient has a prescription from an Ayurvedic practitioner.
In states where sale of bhang is legal, bhang golis or golas are sold openly at places like paan shops with little to no regulation at low prices.
So there you go boys and girls. How bhang got its groove in the beginning and how its turning the groove back on now. Till our next date, keep on the metta guys.