Maha Shivaratri 2017: Stunning images show holy men smoking cannabis and smearing their bodies with ash

Hundreds of holy men have gathered to celebrate the Hindu festival of Maha Shivaratri.

The men, traditionally called Sadhus, will perform holy rituals at Pashupatinath temple in Nepal today.

Nepal temporarily lifts the ban on marijuana for the holy festival so holy men can smoke it to imitate the Hindu God Shiva.

However, they are not permitted to sell or allow pilgrims to smoke the drug and must only consume it in the temple. They can also press the ash to the heads of pilgrims using their thumbs.

Pilgrims instead are only allowed to pour milk over a stone phallus, offer up fruit and sandalwood paste and burn incense.


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Shiva Is a God Who Likes Marijuana — and so Do Many of His Followers

A Hindu holy man in Kathmandu smokes a chillum, a traditional clay pipe, on March 6, the eve of a festival honoring the god Shiva.

Shiva is one chill deity.

He's one of the three major gods in the Hindu religion. And he has a penchant for pot.

"Shiva loves marijuana. So we come to share Shiva's prasad [offerings] with everyone else," explains a 60-year-old holy man who gives his name as Radhe Baba.

It's the eve of the festival of Shiva Ratri, or "The Night of Shiva" — March 7 this year. The celebration marks the day Shiva saved the universe from darkness and married the goddess Parvati.



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Religion and marijuana: Where does Hinduism stand on marijuana?

The second article in our series of religion and marijuana - Today we are looking at the relationship between Hinduism and marijuana usage. 

Hinduism is the religion of the majority of people in India and Nepal. It also exists among significant populations outside of the sub continent and has over 900 million adherents worldwide.

Unlike most other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of teachings.

Like other religions, Hindus generally disapprove of the non-medicinal drug use.


Marijuana is really just a weed in some places

Being a seasoned traveler and photographer, a journey to the Kingdom of Bhutan placed high on my bucket list.

Several years ago I visited there in a trip which also included China, Tibet and Nepal. The breathtaking flight from Nepal to Bhutan gave us spectacular views of Mt. Everest and the snow-covered Himalayan mountain range.

I thought I must have died and gone to Heaven.

As it turned out, the King of this tiny mountain democratic monarchy in the Himalayas was getting married the same week as my visit. The towns were exquisitely decorated and people donned their best regalia. Excitement was at a near frenzy in this normally sleepy and pastoral country. Every television was tuned in to the festivities, all eyes glued to the screen.


Nepal's ex-crown prince nabbed in Thailand, again

BANGKOK (AP) — Nepal's former crown price, notorious for his flamboyant lifestyle, has been arrested for marijuana possession in Thailand for a second time in two years, police said Wednesday.

Paras Shah was taken into custody last week after officers found marijuana in his Bangkok hotel room, police Col. Chutrakul Madee said. He was released on bail Monday.

"The officers were initially called to investigate a quarrel between him and his girlfriend and then they found the marijuana," Chutrakul said. "He will be brought to a Bangkok court for prosecution."

Shah was in Thailand on a tourist visa.

In 2012, he was arrested for marijuana possession on the resort island of Phuket in southern Thailand. It's unclear how that case was resolved.

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