A short history of bhang in India

What coffee was to the American television sitcom, Friends, the cannabis drink bhang was to Hindi’s greatest satirical novel, Raag Darbari. Set in an Uttar Pradesh village during the 1960s, bhang is ubiquitous in the novel and even the children of the village, some of whom are too poor to even know what milk tastes like, are familiar with it. So central is the cannabis drink to the rural world of Raag Darbari that it raises even the making of it to a high art:

For bhang drinkers, grinding bhang is an art, a poem, a great work, a craft, a ritual. Even if you chew half an anna’s worth of the cannabis leaf and then have a drink of water, you get fairly high, but this is cheap inebriation. Ideally almonds, pistachios, rose-petal conserve, milk, cream and so on should be used with the cannabis leaf. The bhang should be

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