Yogesh Pawar / Wednesday, March 15, 2006 (Mumbai):
For all those who thought that buying and consuming bhaang is not legal in the country, higher sanctions seem to be available.
"Lord Shiva is a great lover of bhaang, which is why it is distributed as prasaad," said Classical singer Soma Ghosh."For me, Holi means a celebration of the adidev lord Shiva, so the best places to get your high are temples, ideally Shiva temples".
Easy buy – An NDTV team in Mumbai set about the task of finding bhaang, a hidden camera in tow.
Its first stop was the famous Walkeshwar temple in south Mumbai, where lord Ram is famed to have worshipped Shiva. A local shopkeeper there said he was selling bhaang pellets for Rs 2.50 each. When asked why he did not keep fresh bhaang paste, he said he wanted to avoid any problems with the police.
However, he was quick to add that the bhaang paste would be available near the Babulnath temple.The NDTV team had no problems finding the fresh paste at the Babulnath temple, and then outside the Ganesh temple in Prabhadevi.
Bhaang should technically be illegal, as it is made from the leaf and flowers of the cannabis plant which is also the source of marijuana. But it is too mild to count as a drug. More importantly, bhaang is too much a part of the Indian cultural, religious and folk fabric for it to fall under earthly laws. Some say the substance is meant to enhance the proximity to the divine. "Bhaang helps the mind concentrate better. In fact, it helps improve meditation," said Vinayswarup Brahmachari, a priest."If the person is thinking of pursuing other bodily pleasures, it will help him perform better," he added. Little wonder then, that many swear by a mixture of bhaang, milk, almonds and flavouring herbs as the recipe for instant nirvana. But moderation is key, and too much could mean at best a bad headache, and in extreme cases, hallucinations.