Let’s find out how bhang originated
Bhang lassi is a drink that’s made of yogurt or milk, nuts, spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, rose water, and—yes—cannabis, ground and mixed with water, then formed in the shape of balls. Let’s know what is bhang firstly and its historical presence within Indian culture and religion.
In one of the biggest event in Hindu mythology where the Gods and demons joined together in churning the Ocean of Milk, various things began to rise out of as a result, first the wish-giving cow, Surabhi, rose out, delighting gods and demons alike, then Varuni, with rolling eyes, the divinity of wine, followed by the Parijata, the fragrant tree of Paradise, then the graceful troops of apsaras.
These were followed by the moon, which was grasped by Shiva and placed upon his brow, and then a draught of deadly poison, also taken by Shiva who drank of it, lest it should destroy the world, a selfless act that is said to have turned the God blue when the poison became stuck in his throat. Then appeared Dhanwantari holding in his hand the vessel of amrita, the dew of life, lighting up the eyes of both the Gods and demons with desire.
Story of lassi bhang
The story has it that after the amrita appeared in the Kumbha (urn) the demons attempted to gain control of it and as a result, a 12-day battle, equal to twelve earthly years, took place between the Gods and the demons in the heavens. During the battle, the celestial bird, the Garuda, flew away with the Kumbha of amrita to protect it from the hands of the demons. To ensure that the precious amrita did not fall into the hands of the demons, the Kumbha (vessel) of nectar was temporarily hidden at four places on the earth – Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. Ancient tradition has it that one of the miracles that resulted from the spilling of the amrita was the creation of Hemp (Bhang).
One of Hinduism’s best-known legends describes a plot when Shiva intervened to drink up the poison that also emerged during the churning, it turned his throat blue and caused him great agony. Parvati offered him ground bhang to soothe the pain. Hence, bhang takes on special meaning in Indian culture as the plant preferred by Shiva. When the British established rule over India in the mid-1800s, they were initially astounded at such widespread use of bhang in the country; in the late 19th Century, they commissioned a study of the drug’s effects and cultural significance.
“To forbid or even seriously restrict the use of so holy and gracious an herb as the hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance,” the report said. “It would rob people of solace in discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from attacks of evil influences.”Although the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 prohibits the production, sale, and consumption of certain parts of the cannabis plant, the leaves are an exception. There are even government-approved bhang shops in cities like Jaisalmer, Pushkar, and Varanasi.
The Atharva Veda mentions cannabis as one of the five most sacred plants on Earth and says that a guardian angel resides in its leaves. It also refers to it as a “source of happiness,” a “joy-giver” and a “liberator”. Ayurveda considers the cannabis plant to be of medicinal value and in the Sushruta Samhita (6 BCE) it is used to aid digestion and appetite. So common is it in Ayurveda that it has been called the “penicillin of Ayurvedic medicine”.Bhang also plays an important role in Hindu celebrations like Shivratri (known as the ‘night of Shiva’) and Holi (the festival of colors). During these times, the addition of bhang to a traditional thandai as well lassi heightens the general sense of merriment on the streets.
- 1/2 oz. Cannabis
- 2 Cups warm whole milk
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 1 tbsp Coconut milk
- 1 tbsp Almonds, chopped
- 1/8 tsp Powdered ginger
- 1 pinch Garam masala
- 1/2 tsp Grenadine
- 1 cup Water
How to make it
- Bring water to a boil in a teapot, and add cannabis to it.
- Brew for about 7 to 10 minutes, then strain.
- Gradually grind the strained cannabis along with 2 tbsp of milk using a mortar and pestle; repeat this process several times.
- Strain the milk into another bowl and keep aside.
- Add a little more milk to the cannabis and grind it along with the almonds, repeat this several times.
- Strain the liquid through your sieve to remove the excess cannabis plant matter, and proceed to pour the milk, coconut milk, grenadine and water into one pan.
- Add ginger, sugar, and garam masala, bringing to a boil while stirring continuously.
- Take the mixture off the heat. Once it is at a reasonable temperature, place it in the fridge to continue cooling for a few hours.
- Your bhang lassi is ready to serve!
Tips for Drinking Bhang Lassi in India
Cannabis is part of the culture in India, partially thanks to the powerful god, Shiva, who loved his cannabis plant along with his pet cow. It is confusing what is OK and what’s not in India, especially rules on how females can dress, considering one can get hash in a restaurant but girls can’t show their thighs. Like many articles, I must make a disclaimer: Don’t do drugs! Even Bhang Lassi! Now in the off chance that you choose to ignore me and partake in the dangerous drinking of special lassi…
Here are 15 tips for bhang lassi in India
1. If you don’t like yoghurt, ask for a special Coca-Cola or Fanta.
2. While you’re there, grab some green cookies. They aren’t suspicious at all. Just kidding. They are very suspicious, so just in case eat them discreetly. It’s a tricky law where you can’t buy and sell, but officials seem to be looking the other way. Best to not take your chances showing the whole world your cookies.
3. On your first try, even if you think you compare to Bob Marley in tolerance, get a “light” lassi. They make them very strong. It is not the same as smoking and bhang side effects can be stronger.
4. Do NOT take this alone. I have heard from travelers that they drank one, fell asleep, and woke up without a purse.
5. You are asking these vendors to put a drug in your drink. You are at their mercy, and you are taking a risk that they could add anything else they want; you don’t know their bhang recipe and what else they might add. As another option, you can try to make your own lassi at home or partake on Holi with locals you trust.
6. Buy from government approved shops, not street vendors.
7. Do NOT by any means drink bhang lassi before your camel safari. This is just a no-brainer… right? Possible complications due to bhang effects include: almost slipping off your camel, wobbling for an hour, thinking it’s hotter than it is, feeling like you’ve been on your camel for days, and worse thinking that you are in danger in Pakistan since during my trip 6 years ago, a couple of tourists had been killed there at that time.
8.You, as a foreigner, should not partake in smoking/drinking on the streets like the sadhus (holy men) do. They are worshiping and/or helping free their people from sin (I’ve been told mixed reports) and you clearly are not.
9. Do NOT think this is the same as smoking a joint. It isn’t. You may be loopy for hours.
10. Do NOT think that because you ate a brownie once, you are the master of all drugs edible. Do not underestimate the powerfulness of bhang drinks.
11. Don’t drink lassi on an empty stomach, and try to stay outside.
12. I don’t even know why I’m typing this… but don’t give a sip to a child or animal. I don’t know why this would EVER happen, but for some reason I feel obligated to type it.
13. If you have forgotten a few cookies and taken them on a bus/train/somewhere that you get searched, first of all you’re a silly person. Second of all, remember that this is India and ask “How much is the fine?” The best way to nonchalantly offer a bribe. Does this make you ethically innocent? Nope, but it can easily keep you out of trouble.
14. If you are in India during Holi, there is a huge increase in Bhang intake, and everyone and their father are on it. Although I’m not advising you do drugs… Holi is a fine time to give it a whirl.
15. If you see cannabis growing on the side of a street, don’t steal it. It could just be a nuisance in someone’s garden OR, in somewhere like Malana, you could get in a lot of trouble from locals (so I hear).