From drugs to god, from Shiva to teenagers.
Mumbai teenagers take on cannabis like born addicts. If asked a 15 year old what is their idea of fun and having a good time, most of them will say, ‘lets get high tonight’. Though most of them will not even know from which plant the drugs that they consume come from but will definitely and for all practical purposes will know how to roll a joint. Each and every step in the process has a name. To start off with buying drugs is called ‘scoring’, after buying there is a process called ‘ crushing’ where the drug is cleaned, after cleaning it is rolled in a rizla/rolling paper like a cigarette, this process is called ‘rolling’. Finally the joint is lit up and smoked which is called ‘blazing’. Teenagers in the age group of 11-15 years are the worst affected. The main sources of buying drugs are from the roadside drug peddlers who operate in the radius of most of the city colleges.
Though seen as a major problem by doctors and parents and also named as a subculture among the teenagers of Mumbai, one should ponder the importance of religion in our society and the massive use of marijuana as a part of religious practices. Overdose of any form of Cannabis can lead to psychological effects like depression, slow reaction rate, indecisiveness and memory loss. “Indulging in cannabis has become a sub culture among students in Mumbai. I get 50-60 cases every month”, says Dr. Harish Shetty, consultant psychiatrist at LH Hiranandani Hospital. Overdose of drugs has a direct impact on the grades of students. If you are high on cannabis you are invariably undoubtedly low on grades.
The earliest known reports regarding the sacred use of cannabis in India came from the Atharva Veda estimated to have been written sometime around 2000 – 1400 BC. It mentions cannabis as one of the “five sacred plants”. There are three types of cannabis used in India. The first bhang consists of the leaves and plant tops of the marijuana plant. It is usually consumed as an infusion in beverage form, and varies in strength according to how much cannabis is used in the preparation. The second, ganja consisting of the leaves and the plant tops, is smoked. The third, called charas, consists of the resinous buds and/or extracted resin from the leaves of the marijuana plant. Typically, bhang is the most commonly used form of cannabis in religious festivals.
With Hinduism dominating all religions in India, most people will know the God of creation and destruction, the Mahadev, the God of Dance; Lord Shiva. What image comes to our mind when we think of Lord Shiva. Probably the one with where he is poised in a dancing position with one heel on the ground and the other leg up till the waist with the knee folded and the hands in an appropriate dance position. This is the posture of Shiva Tandava. Though surprisingly when we first hear about Lord Shiva this image conviniently takes a back seat as a more clearer image of him sitting at Mount Kailasa with his hair tied in a knot on the top, a chillum in his hand and peace on his face. Lord Shiva smoked ganja in a chillum which is made of clay. He smoked because it relieved him of all worry and tension and gave him peace of mind. The ‘Sadhus’ who are devotees of Lord Shiva also smoke hash (charas) and weed(ganja) as a mark of their utter devotion to Lord Shiva. Sadhus in Varanasi specifically in Benaras,Baidynath and Tarakeswar smoke weed openly in chillums as a sign of respect to the God in the hope that he will be happy and grant them moksh or nirvana.
Hindu festivals like Holi and Maha shivratri have an open consumption of bhang (milk mixed with cannabis). Though high amounts of consumption of bhang is not advised but a low consumption is acceptable everywhere across India. Where drugs like weed and hash have been part of the religious history it becomes evident that children growing in a traditional Hindu family who worship Lord Shiva will know about this fact.