Bhang (or Bhāṅg) is a cannabis concoction typically consumed as “Bhāṅg thandai” – a drink combining warm milk, ground almonds, and spices with a paste formed from the female cannabis plant’s flowers and leaves. Bhang, which contains a significant amount of THC, was originally consumed at Hindu festivals and is still commonly used in Indian culture today.
Bhang is regarded as one of the oldest and most traditional edible forms of marijuana. It is the preferred method of cannabis use in Northern India and an integral element of Hindu culture.
WHAT IS BHANG?
Bhang is a paste formed from the female cannabis plant’s flowers and leaves. The paste is produced by soaking and crushing plant matter. Traditionally, the paste is rolled into bhang goli, which are smooth, green or brown shining balls.
The most prevalent application of bhang is in the beverage Bhāṅg thandai. Additionally, Bhāṅg thandai contains heated milk, crushed almonds, and an assortment of spices. Typically, the beverage is consumed during religious celebrations such as Holi. Bhang is an integral aspect of Hindu culture due to its association with Shiva, the god of devastation. Hinduism does not view destruction negatively because it is through destruction that new life is produced.
There are numerous stories about Shiva in Hinduism. One individual describes how he descended from the Hindu Kush mountain range with Bhāṅg as a gift to humanity. According to the legends, Shiva regularly used bhang to boost his abilities. Shiva is also sometimes known as the “Lord of Bhāṅg.”
In India, the use of bhang is socially accepted and somewhat inconspicuous. Following the colonization of India in the nineteenth century, the British opted not to prohibit its use out of fear of extreme civil unrest. Today, bhang is still consumed, and it may still be obtained in government-approved establishments.
HOW BHANG IS BEING USED TRADITIONALLY
Cannabis is mentioned as one of five sacred plants in the Atharva Veda. This is an old Hindu scripture dated between 2000 and 1400 BCE. Bhang has been an integral part of Ayurvedic therapy for countless centuries. The Hindu believers think bhang may alleviate numerous problems.
Hindu holy men, often known as sadhus, use bhang to aid in meditation and yogic practice. Anxious troops were also known to use bhang prior to battle to calm their worries. According to legend, bhang provided a scared soldier the courage to slide beneath an armed elephant and kill it during a successful battle. Bhang was also considered a potent aphrodisiac and was frequently used by couples on their first night together.
BHANG VERSUS CHARAS
Charas, which derives from the Hindustani word for “hash,” is a second form of traditional Indian cannabis extract. Popular in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal, but often associated with India. Similar to bhang, charas has been utilized for religious and holistic purposes for eons. Consequently, what is the distinction between bhang and charas?
Traditionally, charas is prepared from the unfertilized young female leaves and blossoms of the cannabis plant. Resin is gathered by rubbing the buds and leaves between the hands until it forms. Resin is then scraped away and gathered. Hash can also be mistaken for charas. Unlike bhang, though, charas is produced from a live cannabis plant. Hash is prepared from the dried remains of cannabis plants.
In India, it is presently prohibited to produce charas. In the Himalayan region of northern India, however, it is still regarded a crucial cash crop. Charas, unlike bhang, is not edible. The suggested way to consume it is by smoking. The smoking/vaporizing procedure will activate the powerful THC cannabinoids.
THE PROS AND CONS OF BHANG
Bhang is notorious for its hallucinogenic properties. The THC and other cannabinoids in the mixture attach to the cannabinoid receptors in the body, affecting a variety of activities and causing a pleasant, often euphoric high. As bhang is an edible, a significant proportion of the THC eaten is converted to 11-hydroxy-THC during first-pass metabolism (i.e. when subjected to the digestive system and liver before entering the bloodstream).
11-hydroxy-THC is significantly more psychoactive than delta-9-THC, resulting in a significantly stronger and longer-lasting high. In comparison to smoking, the effects of bhang can last up to eight hours or more, depending on the drug’s potency and dosage.
Although bhang has been a part of the Ayurvedic lifestyle for centuries, there is little scientific evidence to substantiate claims of possible health benefits.
Bhang may have some benefits, but it also has the potential for negative side effects. However, its effects are comparable to those of other cannabis-infused foods. In other words, consuming bhang may cause you to experience terror or panic, and it is likely to impair your short-term memory, coordination, and judgment when you are inebriated.
Consuming bhang during pregnancy or breastfeeding can raise the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and impaired brain development. Therefore, use at these times is strongly discouraged. Moreover, adolescents and children should avoid taking bhang because it may significantly affect brain development.
TRADITIONAL BHANG RECIPE
If you really wish to create bhang thandai at home, the technique is straightforward and requires only a few key items. It is a pleasant, refreshing, and alternative method to consume marijuana. This recipe serves two portions.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Large saucepan and lid
- Mortar and pestle
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh filtration
- 1/2 to 1 ounce (14–28 grams) of freshly harvested cannabis flowers and leaves
- 500ml of pure water 500ml of whole milk
- 250ml honey
- 2 tablespoons ground almonds 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds 1/4 teaspoon garam masala 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ½ – 1 tsp rosewater
- Optional: a small handful of chopped pistachios
- The water should be brought to a boil on the stove.
- Add the chopped plant material to the boiling water, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Allow the mixture to soak for approximately 10 minutes while covered.
- The cheesecloth will be used to strain the mixture. Set aside both the cannabis and the water.
- On the burner, warm the milk in the saucepan.
- Combine the cannabis and several teaspoons of warmed milk in a mortar and pestle to create a paste.
- Add additional milk, a few teaspoons at a time, while grinding. Continue this method until half of the milk has been consumed.
- Remove any residual plant matter from the milk and reserve the liquid.
- Now, combine the water and milk and mix thoroughly.
- Add the remaining milk and additional ingredients, thoroughly combining between each addition.
- Before serving, chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator and whisk well. If desired, garnish with chopped pistachios.
ADVICE FOR BETTER BHANG:
Bhang was designed for fresh consumption. Therefore, we do not advise storing it for more than one day, whether refrigerated or not. Make it as needed so that you can reap all of its benefits before any ingredient breakdown occurs.
Fresh cannabis leaves and flowers are required for a decent bhang preparation. If you grow your own plants, this is the perfect way to utilize your excess fan leaves and cut. You can use dried and cured cannabis, but it will be more difficult to achieve the correct paste consistency. Using dried bud might also give in a more strong bhang thandai. Consequently, if you are using dried ingredients, you must alter the quantity proportionately.
Cannabinoids are fat-soluble. This means that more THC and CBD will be absorbed into your beverage if you utilize a fattier liquid. Therefore, it is vital to make your bhang thandai with full-fat milk from cows or goats. Increase the fat content by adding a teaspoon of cream, butter, or yogurt to the completed mixture.
Vegans are permitted to use plant-based milk, although the results may not be as potent. The most effective milk is one with a higher-than-average fat content, such as coconut milk. Increase the fat content and absorption capacity by adding coconut oil towards the conclusion of the process.
IS BANG FOR THE RIGHT THING FOR ME?
If you have ever consumed edible cannabis, you will understand that this kind of THC consumption produces tremendous effects. Bhang can take up to two hours to take effect. When this occurs, the resulting high is more potent and long-lasting than smoking or vaping.
Therefore, caution should be exercised when consuming bhang. Commence with a tiny quantity. Once you understand the potency and effects, you can adjust the dosage accordingly. Remember that not all ingestion methods are suitable for everyone. The key to maximizing your cannabis experience is determining the optimal delivery strategy for you.