Shiva is one of the three major gods in Hindu, and he also has a love for cannabis which he shares with other holy men during The Night of Shiva festival.
“Shiva loves marijuana. So we come to share Shiva’s prasad offerings with everyone else,” explains a 60-year-old holy man Radhe Baba.
The Night of Shiva celebrates the day Shiva saved the universe from darkness and married the goddess Parvati. To help celebrate, hundreds of holy men and some women have traveled down to Pashupati, one of Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temples located in the capital city of Kathmandu.
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Days before the festival, they prepare by praying and lounging to be well-rested to commune with Shiva. Some of these practices include smoking hashish by bonfires. “Fire represents God,” says Ram Das Bairagi. “We do bonfires for Shiva, to call him. Maybe he will see the fire.”
It’s believed that Shiva uses marijuana both to relax and focus on his meditation. Another holy man by the name of Madhan Lal explained that “The marijuana helps keep off worldly desires. Sharing the prasad (cannabis) shows our love for Shiva.”
Photo by Claude Renault
Holy men invite visitors to sit, smoke, and relax with a conical clay pipe called chillum to share the prasad. They proceed by smearing ashes over the visitor’s forehead as a blessing. They will light bonfires to warm Shiva and signify winter’s end.
“God is such a mysterious thing, but you have to follow it because it’s inside you,” says 72-year-old Dandi Baba. “We don’t follow the money or day-to-day things. They’re not important; you don’t need those things. The only thing humans need is to share the love with each other and share our culture.”