Marijuana in Nepalese Tourism

Author: Pradeep Dahal08 Sep 2020
Marijuana in Nepalese Tourism

Nepal is geographically small yet culturally and socially very diverse. It is a beautifully assorted country having less than 30 million population but all of them diverse in religion, caste, culture, ethnicity, etc. and even diverse in nurturing the people according to their varied caste and creeds, cultural and religious aspects. We can find the assortment in each and every aspect that is dissolved in the society, so a tourist can see the melting pot among the religions, caste, creeds, culture, and belief systems. Each community has its own identical beliefs and practices that influence the society, in this article we are discussing the Hashish culture that is prevalent in the Nepalese society from prehistoric times to the current twenty-first century. 

As we all are aware of that the Cannabis is flowering plants that have medicinal value. It is an annual, dioecious flowering herb that grows in the moist and sunny places on the altitude ranges generally from 1500-3500m above the sea level. It is believed to be indigenous plants in central Asia. Similarly, people have confusion if cannabis, hemp, marijuana, hashish, etc. are the same plants or different. But all of them are the different parts of the same species of plants known as Cannabis Sativa. Likewise, Cannabis has been used long for non-drug as hemp. It has been used as Hemp fiber, hemp oils, hemp juice, and medicinal purposes and as recreational drugs as it reduces anxiety, pain, and increase creativeness. The number of developed western countries has legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use, but cultivating, trading and smuggling of cannabis and its various products are legally banned by the government of Nepal in the year 1973AD. Though the cultivation, production of cannabis is illegal in Nepal trekkers and hikers in the mountains of Nepal encounter a number of wild cannabis trees everywhere in the trekking and hiking trails of Nepal. It is said that the wild-grown hashish in the mountains of Nepal is the best among the hashish found in the world. As it is grown widely almost everywhere, trekkers trekking in Nepal can easily get the hashish to taste if they are interested to taste it. But trading and carrying are completely illegal and a huge punishment is provided for traders, but police pays no eye to the tourist who just smokes for a taste. Guide assisting with the clients will help the clients to get marijuana for taste.

It is no secret that Hemp plants produce chemicals called cannabinoids that generate mental and physical effects after consumption. Nonetheless, the use of cannabis dates to prehistoric times. Many religious Hinduism books mention that Lord Shiva highly gratify marijuana so his followers take marijuana as the prasad (blessing) of Lord Shiva and consume it without any hesitation. You can also see the Sadhus (holy men) smoking Marijuana as a blessing of Lord Shiva in Pashupatinath temple, the oldest and largest Hindu Temple in Nepal, a famous temple revered to Lord Shiva, also listed in World heritage sites by UNESCO on 1979. Historically, in western countries, hemp was found to be consumed on 440BCE as recreational use and medicinal use. Ancient and religious uses of hashish also dated back to prehistoric time but industrial uses of hemp just started in the 20th century. Nowadays, people consume it by the name of weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, etc. and they consumed the mixture of greenish-grey part of the hemp plant.

In addition, the uses of hemp as earlier mentioned is strictly illegal by law but almost all the Nepalese youths and senior citizens use it as a blessing of Shiva on the birthday of Lord Shiva, grandly celebrated as a festival called Shivaratri. On the day of  Shivaratri more than a million people of Nepal visit the Pashupatinath temple to worship Lord Shiva and try the various products of Marijuana as a Prasad (Blessing)of Lord shiva as they believe shiva will be pleased on doing so, though the police and government try to stop the trading of cannabis products, the pilgrimage on that day get the marijuana from the Sadhus that travel to Nepal from India to pay homage to Shiva. Travelers that visit Pashupatinath temple on Shivaratri will get to try Marijuana and even encounter Naked Sadhus. There is another festival known as Holi (festival of colors) where the use of Bhang is done previously in the southern part of Nepal (Terai Region) and nowadays in the other regions too. Especially not smoking directly but mixing it with Lassi (milkshake).

Nepal was known to be heaven for Marijuana lovers in the late 60s and early 70s as marijuana, hashish, etc. were legal in that period before 1973 AD. The government of Nepal illegalized the use of Cannabis in 1973 AD because people started migrating to Nepal because of the legal production and trade of Marijuana. Likewise, Hippies (people with long hair and unusual dress and did not accept the conventional societal values) from western countries especially the United Kingdom came to Nepal as it was a cheap destination and Cannabis was legal. The Hippies are prominently those who are highly credited as the beginners of Nepal tourism. Similarly, world-famous hip-hop singer Bob Marley visited Nepal for a trek to Muktinath in the 1960s because in the Mustang area of Annapurna Region of Nepal near the holy Muktinath temple, purple haze (A species of hemp whose leaf turns slightly purple during flowering) is found and purple haze is considered as one of the best species of cannabis for cannabis lovers. Purple haze is said to be originating in Columbia but many people believe Mustang, Nepal is the original destination of its origin. Purple haze is famous among cannabis lovers for killing anxiety, increasing creativity, and reducing pain. Today some states of the united states of America cannabis have been legalized as well as the use of hemp and its products but, Nepal is forced to cancel the license of the shops, dealers, and framers that trade hashish to the USA.

Even though Hashish is illegal in Nepal, Nepalese people not only tolerate the use of Hashish but also accept the use of cannabis and its products as cannabis is part of their religious and daily life practice. Nepalese farmers use Marijuana leaf to treat their ill cattle and consumed by themselves for medicinal herbs.
Bhang achar (Pickles) is one of the most delicious pickles made in almost all Nepali households. Tourists can try Bhang Achar (Pickles prepared by the grinding of marijuana seeds) if they wish to try, if interested they shall consult with their guide or Nepali friend for this, and for sure they will be willing to help. Bhang lassi is another delicious food prepared by the marijuana seeds and also available in some of the famous restaurants of Kathmandu and Pokhara. During your tour in Nepal, you can find marijuana in the street of Thamel being sold by some of the addicts of cannabis and Himalayan trekkers do not suggest anyone take the hashish from the street as they may torture or blackmail you later carrying the hashish and trekkers may be in problems, so in this case, you simply ask your guide or any Nepal local friend to arrange for taste and they will probably be ready to arrange it only for the purpose to let you experience it.

Simply, we can say that marijuana is found everywhere in Nepal and it is a part of Nepali culture so any tourist who wants to taste the marijuana can get it throughout the trekking trails as all the trekking trails are the growing places of wild cannabis. The government of Nepal has restricted the trade, cultivation and production of hashish so no tourists and locals are allowed to transport cannabis from one place to another.

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