South Asia: India's Shravan Pilgrims Bring Profits to Marijuana Sellers

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Pilgrims celebrating the Hindu month of Shravan (mid-July to mid-August) are filling the pockets of marijuana sellers in the Deoghar district of Jharkand, according to a report in the News Post of India. Considered auspicious by followers of Lord Shiva, the month is marked by, among other things, a pilgrimage by millions of adherents to pour water on the Shiva Linga at the Baidyanath temple in Deoghar.

The pilgrims, clad in saffron, smoke marijuana (ganja) as part of the observance. According to one estimate cited by the News and Post, devotees are buying and smoking 50 to 65 pounds of marijuana a day from happy Deoghhar pot vendors.

Police are aware of the sales, but turn a blind eye, the newspaper reported.

"Marijuana is liked by Lord Shiva. There is nothing wrong in smoking ganja. It makes the 110 km journey from Sultanganj in Bihar to Deoghar easy," one pilgrim told the newspaper.

Marijuana has been used for spiritual purposes for thousands of years in India. It is currently cultivated in at least 10 districts in Bihar and Jharkhand, and Maoist guerrillas reportedly are also getting into the business.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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