Bhang, the drink patronised by Lord Shiva is the same drink with which Amitabh Bacchan tried wooing Rekha on screen in the ever green song Rang Barse in Silsila, it is also the official drink of Holi.
Bhang, which is prepared from the leaves and buds of the female cannabis plant, has become synonymous with Holi. Bhang that is otherwise hard to get in the city and banned, somehow finds a place in many household as part of the holi celebrations.
Begum Bazaar the commerce center of the city has a variety of shops selling bhang clandestinly during this time of the year. Additionally, there are plenty of families that get their bhang supply for Holi from places outside the state.
“Drinking Bhang is one of our Holi customs.
But we get the Bhang, which comes in the form of small round tablets from Bidar. Apart from the bhang thandai, bhang kachoris are also very popular in my family,” says Prakash Soni, a businessman.
Even though Begum Bazaar is a popular destination for Bhang in the city, it is sold only to the regular patrons of the shop. Sometimes the bhang thandai are served for free to friends and relatives as a part of the Holi celebrations.
“We have been celebrating Holi with Bhang for the past 30 years. We get the marijuana leaves, dry them and make it a powder. Then we mix it with water to make it a paste,” explains Kamal Kishore, who insisted that he doesn’t use bhang for money and it is only for celebrations. “When relatives and friends come over to our house for Holi we offer them bhang,” he adds.
Explaining the process of making bhang thandai, Kamal Kishore says, “Bhang along with almonds and pistachios and a glass of milk is enough to give you a high. It takes about half an hour to one hour for its effect to set in.” The bright and varied colors of Holi and the intoxicating euphoria of Bhang and the festive spirit in the air combined together is what reminds one of the lyrics of the evergreen Amitabh Bacchan’s Holi song from Silsila Rang barse bheege chunar wali, rang barse Are kaine maari pichkaari tori bheegi angiya O rangrasia rangrasia.