Cannabis has been tied to spiritual and mental well-being throughout history, and few faiths have embraced it as explicitly as the Hindu religion.
Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are Hinduism’s three major gods. Brahma is the creator of the world, Vishnu is the preserver of the world, and Shiva is the savior of the world. There is a festival, Maha Shivarati, that honors Shiva and celebrates his marriage to Parvati. “Great Night of Shiva” falls on the new lunar cycle in the Hindu calendar month of Maagha, around February or March. Maha Shivarati 2021 was celebrated on March 11-12.
Traditions – Smoking and Bhang Thandai
Festival traditions include dancing, prayer, fasting, meditation, a ritual bath, and an all-night vigil. During the all-night vigil, many observers will also smoke cannabis in honor of Shiva. According to NPR, Shiva smoked cannabis to relax and focus his energy for meditation.
The smoke has another deep spiritual meaning within Hinduism:
“Devotees light bonfires to warm Shiva and signify the end of winter. Fire is holy in Hinduism. But touching the fire with unclean things is thought to pollute it. So the holy men cup their hands around the base of their pipes and suck the smoke through. This prevents their lips from polluting it.”
In the morning, observers break their fast and eat the food brought as an offering. One of the traditional drinks is bhang thandai, a milk-based beverage. It contains almonds, fennel seeds, and bhang, an edible mixture of cannabis buds, leaves, and flowers. By smoking cannabis and consuming bhang thandai, Hindu believers can feel closer to Shiva and show their devotion to him.
Readers, we want to hear from you! Have you attended a Maha Shivarati celebration? Do you use CBD products to relax and focus or as part of daily meditation? Leave a comment below, and let us know what you think!