Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Laws

Hindu God Banishes Cannabis Tourism from Indian Village

Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

A local Hindu deity has issued an edict ordering that guest-houses that cater to cannabis-imbibing tourists in a remote Indian village be shut down.

That’s the gist of the startling headline from the Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

Malana, a village high in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, is famous for its premium-quality hashish, but has traditionally been isolated from the outside world. Now, village elders fear the community’s unique culture is threatened by the swarms of tourists drawn by Malana’s storied bhang.

Hashish has traditionally been used to honor the community’s protective deity, Jamlu Devta. Perhaps put off by the less-than-reverential attitude of some visitors, Jamlu Devta has “spoken” to village elders, telling them to end the tourist trade—not, notably, the hashish production.

“The deity did not want any of the villagers to rent out their property for running guest-houses and restaurants. He has forbidden everyone from doing this, and those violating his orders will have to bear the brunt of his curse,” Malana panchayat pradhan (village elder) Bhagi Ram told the Hindustan Times by phone.

The god’s edict was ratified in a vote of the village parliament. A similar move was taken a few months back, when the village banned photography because residents felt that visitors were portraying Malana as a hub of what the Hindustan Times unappetizingly called “narco-tourism.”

The Culture Trip and Mysterious Himachal websites provide more background on the threatened culture and history of Malana. The village prides itself on being the “world’s oldest democracy,” with a local parliament dating back centuries. Villagers hold themselves to be descendants of the army of Alexander the Great, when he passed through India in the 4th century BCE. 

The protective deity is said to have started out as a mortal man, who came to the site of the village seeking enlightenment in the ancient past. The seeker, Jamlu Rishi (rishi = sage), was so sucessful in his quest that he was granted immortality and become Jamlu Devta (devta = deity).

As in many places across India, traditional ritual use of bhang in the village is tolerated by the national government. However, the government had virtually no presence in Malana until very recently, when a road was built to accommodate construction of a hydro-electric project. This is also what brought the wave of tourists, and local fears of cultural erosion.

While this affair affords the media the opportunity to gloat about “narco-tourism,” it’s important to keep things in perspective.

Cannabis tourism indeed does pose a threat to authentic cultures—especially in places like Malana that have only recently been opened to mass society. But it has this in common with all other forms of tourism—and, indeed, it poses less of a threat than some other kinds (luxury resorts, golf courses, sex tourism).

There is nothing about cannabis tourism per se that makes it any more of a threat.

It’s incumbent upon cannabis tourists—like all other tourists—to be respectful of local cultures, and to be good ambassadors both for their own countries and for the weed.

But the dilemma facing Malana is ultimately one of globalization—not of any inherent evil of cannabis. Which the villagers themselves seemingly recognized in just banning the tourism—not the ganja. 

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

HT Newsletter

Subscribe for exclusive access to deals, free giveaways and more!

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Advertisement

You May Also Like

Culture

When it comes to medical use under a physician’s care, surprisingly, Mormons are all in.

World

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump has put a temporary halt on travel from Europe.

Politics

Prohibitionists around the world have long used rhetoric to associate the plant with violence and depravity.

Culture

Over 300 years of sex, death, and weirdness.

News

Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway international airports have installed "cannabis amnesty boxes" where travelers can ditch marijuana before boarding flights.

News

The United Nations is calling the increasing abuse of tramadol “the other opioid crisis."

Culture

Right now, Sin City has just one place where it's legal to smoke cannabis in public.

Culture

A Christian website makes its case for CBD.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!