Festivals play a vital role in Indian culture and every festival has an age-old tradition associated with it. One such popular tradition revolves around offering Bhaang to Lord Shiva on the occasion of Shivaratri and then drinking it as a prasad. This year Maha Shivratri will be celebrated on the 1st of March 2022. Let’s find out why Bhaang also known as Cannabis is a quintessential part of the offerings made to Lord Shiva and what makes it so essential in the puja.
Bhaang is basically a drink prepared with edible cannabis. It is made by crushing the cannabis leaves, hemp seeds and mixing it with milk, dry fruits, nuts and aromatic mild spices. However, Cannabis is still a narcotic drug and the possession of this drug is considered to be an offence under the Narcotics Act.
According to Indian culture, Bhang is considered to be a sacred plant, which is a source of connection with the divine power of Lord Shiva and is often associated with nirvana and moksha. There are several stories that mention the association of Bhaang with Lord Shiva, but as per the books of mythology it is believed that the story of Bhaang is associated with the ‘Samudra Manthan’, wherein the sea was churned to obtain the drink of immortality known as Amrita.
However, during the process of Manthan, a poison Halahala came out, which had immense heat and the potential to destroy the entire universe. In order to save the creation, Lord Shiva drank the poison, which is why he is also known as Neekanth. He kept the poison in his throat, which turned his throat blue and generated a lot of heat inside. It is believed that right after drinking the poison Shiva turned restless and Gods and Goddess tried to calm him down.
It is believed that to calm down Lord Shiva, Chandra dev the moon God stayed in Lord Shiva’s hair (Jata), it is believed that post consuming Halahala Lord Shiva returned to Kailasha to lower his body’s temperature and popular beliefs also claim that he was given Bhaang which was a coolant to reduce the heat caused due to consumption of poison. This is the reason why Bhaang is an essential offering in the Maha Shivratri puja.