Panchkula: On the occasion of Shivratri, the devotees have a devotional obsession with the destroyer of the universe. Though all Lord Shiva temples in and around city are beautifully decorated, but ‘bhang’ emerges as a magnetic attraction. The entire lane leading to Saketri Temple was occupied on the auspicious day by road vendors offering ‘bhang’ and ‘bhang ke pakode’. “I have prepared it from old ‘bhang’. You can taste how strong and divine it is,” said a vendor, while offering one glass worth Rs 20, whereas. ‘Bhang pakode’ were available for Rs30 to Rs 60 per 250 gm. Besides, vendors also sold ‘bhang ghota’ and ‘bhang pakoras’ near temples. From gorging on ‘bhang pakoras’ to seeking blessings of the three-eyed one, the festival was celebrated with traditional fervour.
‘Bhang ghota’ is prepared from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the cannabis plant and consumed in the form of a beverage. It has been used as an intoxicant for centuries in Indian culture. “I was so curious about tasting ‘bhang’, because there are ample stories about Mahadev’s prasad. I wanted to know how it was made, and why it makes news on every Shivratri,” said Ankit Sharma, B Tech final year student.
“People don’t just worship Mahadev, they are obsessed with him, they are addicted to his divine image,” said a ‘baba’, while showing raw ‘bhang’ in his bag.
Gulab Das, roadside vendor outside the Sector 11 temple, said: “Bhang is easily available in the outskirts of the city. It’s also offered to Lord Shiva in the form of fresh green leaves. Bel, akk, and dhatoor leaves are among other offerings. Dhatoor fruits are very rare in this season, but still people ask for them.”
Meanwhile a local policeman, said people have grown responsible and they enjoy ‘bhang’ instead of turning it into a mess. “We just need to direct the crowd and ensure the safety of women. ‘Bhang’ has different after-effects than what is presumed. A person never misbehaves after drinking it,” he said.
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