Marijuana Ban Ignored on Nepal's Holiest Holiday

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demotix.com
A real thing
Every once in a while it's good to remember that this magic plant milked for tax dollars and for reefer votes in America has an ancient history elsewhere in the world.

In Nepal, where some land-race strains of the cannabis plant we know today originated, marijuana is downright religious.

The Shivaratri festival was underway on Sunday in Kathmandu, and a central aspect of the Himalayan nation's holiest time is consumption of cannabis -- even though the plant once spread by Shiva in a time of mourning is still illegal, as Reuters reported today.

How do you get around the Nepalese police and consume ganja in public? It's as easy as becoming an ascetic.

For Hindus, Shiva is the god of destruction. His day -- Maha Shivratri, or the "night of Shiva" -- became a time for public cannabis consumption because, it is said, he sowed forests in Nepal with the cannabis plant following the death of a lover.

Supplied by nature or supplied by God, cannabis is denied nonetheless by wordly authorities, whose bounds are denied by the otherworldly seeking holy men. But it wasn't always this way.

According to Reuters, "authorities supplied the drug to holy men in the past but the practice was discontinued in the 1990s after critics said it amounted to promoting its consumption." So nowadays, the holy men have to provide their own supply, and are discouraged from sharing with with mere pilgrims.

As the news service reports:

Cannabis is illegal in Nepal, but permitted as a religious ritual for ascetics during the festival, which took place at the weekend. The only explanation for this is that the ascetics are imitating Shiva.

The ban is ignored during the festival for the ascetics, who are allowed to smoke inside the temple complex but not sell or distribute it to pilgrims.


One million people visited the city for the festival, Reuters reported. Imagine the hubbub -- and the accompanying pipe sellers and Bob Marley flag salesmen -- if this was in the States.

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