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Bhang is an edible preparation of cannabis originating from the Indian Subcontinent. It has been used in food and drink as early as 1000 BC in ancient India. Bhang is traditionally distributed during the spring festival of Maha Shivaratri and Holi. Bhang is mainly used in bhang shops, which sell the cannabis-infused Indian drinks bhang lassi and bhang thandai.

Western documentation

Garcia de Orta, a Portuguese Jewish physician based in Goa, wrote extensively on bangue in his Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India (1563), including its recreational use by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and by many Portuguese. He explicitly rejected the notion of the Indian plant that produces bangue being the same as the European hemp plant (alcanave).

In 1596, a Dutchman, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, wrote three pages on “Bangue” in a work documenting his journeys in the East. He also mentioned the Egyptian hashish, the Turkish boza, Turkish bernavi and the Arabic bursj forms of consumption. Despite the other accounts, the contemporary historian Richard Davenport-Hines lists the late-17th-century and early-18th-century British adventurer Thomas Bowrey as the first Westerner to document the use of bhang.

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