Diverse Uses of Cannabis: Beyond Holi and Bhang

Bhang, a traditional preparation, is made from the seeds, and leaves of the Cannabis plant, which are ground into a powder
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GUWAHATI: Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant or true hemp, Bhang is widely enjoyed during the Holi festival throughout India.

The use of Bhang is not just limited to Holi, as it is also used for various other purposes like medicine, as a pesticide, and to aid in the germination of paddy seeds.

The cannabis plant can grow to be 4 to 10 feet tall when fully grown. It is primarily found in the Indo-Gangetic plains, including states like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal as well as in the Deccan region.

In Telugu, it’s called Ganzai, in Tamil it's Ganja, and Kannada it’s Bangi.

The plant also grows in wastelands and is commonly seen along roadsides. Three main products can be derived from the plant: fiber, oil, and narcotics.

Bhang, a traditional preparation, is made from the seeds, and leaves of the plant, which are ground into a powder. This powder is then filtered and used to make a drink, often mixed with cold, flavored milk or thandai during Holi.

Cannabis has a lesser-known application in manufacturing. Hemp-seed oil, for example, serves as a substitute for linseed oil in varnish industries and is also used in making soft soap. Additionally, cannabis has various medicinal uses.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has recorded various applications of cannabis in its Inventory of Indigenous Technical Knowledge in Agriculture. This project aims to gather, document, and verify indigenous technical knowledge. The inventory was published in 2002-03.

According to ICAR, people in the Kumaun Hills of Uttarakhand apply cannabis ash to treat Hematoma, a condition where blood clots form outside blood vessels.

Cannabis grows in the Chhot/Bada Bhangal areas of Kangra and the Karsog area of Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh.

Although it’s illegal to cultivate cannabis for extracting addictive narcotics, some states permit controlled and regulated cultivation for obtaining its fiber and seeds for industrial or horticultural purposes.

Once the cannabis crop has matured, it is harvested and left to dry. After drying, the seeds are gathered, and the fiber is separated from the stems and branches. This fiber is stronger than jute and is commonly used for making ropes.

Farmers in the Solki area of Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir use these plants to control threadworms in paddy nurseries.


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