Guwahati people celebrating Maha Shivratri on Saturday with full festive and religious fervour. Every Lord Shiva temple around the city, big or small, has made elaborate plans to celebrate this day with the most auspiciously.
Amidst the celebration, the attention moves to bhang (formed from cannabis) which holds a greater cultural significance on the occasion. In many places like Varanasi, it is distributed among the people as “Shiv Prasad.”
According to a myth, it is believed that when gods and demons came together to churn the ocean and obtain Amrita, the drink of immortality, a by-product of the churning was a poison Halahala which could have killed both the gods and the demons. To save everyone, Lord Shiva drank the poison whose effect was such grave that to cool down he was offered bhang.
Many places across the country, consume bhang and ganja on the day of Maha Shivratri as part of the celebration. In Guwahati too, a steep rise has been observed in the sale of ganja and bhang every year.
As per the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, bhang doesn’t fall within the definition of cannabis (hemp) as defined under Section 2 (iii). Hence the NDPS Act doesn’t ban the sale or consumption of bhang. Moreover, the National Policy on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances acknowledges this fact and goes on to mention that the production and sale of Bhang is permitted by many State Governments”.