Written By Lizzie - Assistant Manager
Marijuana has been used in many Indian religious traditions for centuries. It’s said that the Gods sent hemp to earth out of compassion for the human race so that we may attain delight, release fear, and increase pleasure. Thanks, Gods, you nailed it. Other Hindu legends say that cannabis originated from a spot of nectar from heaven. Regardless of how it got here, (probably the aliens), it is revered as a holy substance, meant to bring us closer to the Divine and connect us with our highest Self.
One historic use of cannabis in Hindu tradition happens during Holi, the Festival of Colors. Celebrated on the full moon in the month of Phalgun, (Feb-Mar), it celebrates the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, as well as, a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Chiefly, it’s a time to celebrate unity and equality, to forget differences and to remember the power of play. The night before is spent around a bonfire, singing and dancing, while the following day is a free-for-all water fight of colors, where celebrators run, play and chase each other with vibrantly colored powders and water from balloons, guns, buckets, hoses.
The dowsing of color is meant to represent the vibrant similarities between all of us, while the washing off of colors represents the cleansing of sins and wrongdoings. A time for fun and forgiveness, silliness and sameness. Revelers have a few laughs and get really f**king high.
Though only really legal during certain religious festivals like Holi, marijuana is lovingly and ritualistically brewed into a drink, called Bhang. It’s made by brewing cannabis leaves and flowers with milk, water, spices, rose water, and roasted nuts, typically almonds or pistachios. The drink is traditionally served chilled. Think of it like eggnog at Christmas time, only weedier. Bhang has moderate to heavy psycho-active effects and is meant to be consumed socially and joyfully.
Check out this Bhang recipe straight from the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India and try the drink for yourself. Holi falls on March 12th-13th in 2017.
- 2 cups water
- 1 ounce marijuana
- 4 cups warm milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
- 1/8 teaspoon garam masala (a mixture of cloves, cinnamon and cardamon)
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon rosewater
- 1 cup sugar
- Bring the water to a rapid boil and pour into a clean teapot. Remove any seeds or twigs from the marijuana, add it to the teapot and cover. Let this brew for about 7 minutes.
- Now strain the water and marijuana through a piece of muslin cloth, collect the water and save.
- Take the leaves and flowers and squeeze between your hands to extract any liquid that remains. Add this to the water.
- Place the leaves and flowers in a mortar and add 2 teaspoons warm milk. Slowly but firmly grind the milk and leaves together. Gather up the marijuana and squeeze out as much milk as you can. Repeat this process until you have used about 1/2 cup of milk (about 4 to 5 times). Collect all the milk that has been extracted and place in a bowl. By this time the marijuana will have turned into a pulpy mass.
- Add the chopped almonds and some more warm milk. Grind this in the mortar until a fine paste is formed. Squeeze this paste and collect the extract as before. Repeat a few more times until all that is left are some fibers and nut meal. Discard the residue.
- Combine all the liquids that have been collected, including the water the marijuana was brewed in. Add to this the garam masala, dried ginger and rosewater. Add the sugar and remaining milk.
- Chill, serve, and enjoy!
Higher Leaf wants to hear about your experience with Bhang! Stock up on marijuana shake and make it yourself just in time for Holi Festival 2017. Share your pictures with @HigherLeaf on Facebook or @higherleafmj on Instagram. You can also tell the Higher Leaf Budtenders in Kirkland and Bellevue what you thought of the marijuana drink at your next visit. Happy Holi from Higher Leaf!