Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nagas Smoke away Rs 75 Cr in 'Ganja' during Simhastha

Ujjain, April 25, 2004: For the 25,000 odd Naga sadhus who are in town to participate in the three Shahi Snans, the Simhastha is full of 'Grass', but not of the green variety - of the 'smoky' variety.
Naga Babas smoking 'grass' (Ganja) is quite common site, but only when one gets really close to the mystics does one realize that crores of rupees change hands during the month long religious fair for procuring 'goods' that would keep them in a happy and pleasurable mood.
It is estimated that during the month long Simhastha the nagas collectively consume 'Ganja', worth about 75 crore.
The Hindustan Times had opportunity to spend time with a few Nagas, spread over eight days, and to get to know how such fine quality 'Ganja' in large quantities is procured.
Each of the Nagas, we learnt, spends a minimum of Rs 15,000on 'Ganja' in the entire duration of the fair. Consuming ganja, they say, keeps them happy and helps them remain aloof from the 'worldly pleasures'.
Ram Giri Maharaj, A Naga sadhu from Mumbai, says that 'grass' is available aplenty in the local market. The dealers have, however, hiked the prices from Rs 250 from 10 grams (one tola) to Rs 350-400 for the same amount, considering the increased demand and the opportunity to make a fast buck.
Ram Giri reveals that most of the 'Bhang' shops in Ujjain deal in 'ganja' and 'afeem' and keep the sadhus well stocked up. However, he lamented, sometimes the dealers even cheat sadhus by passing off 'Doobati' powder as 'Ganja'.

Another Naga, Ganesh Giri Baba, says, we says consume ganja in large quantities to keep our focus away from the outer world and also this helps us curb our sexual desire. Says Somwara Giri Baba, "I spend about Rs 20,000 on 'ganja', during the holy month, and most of the stuff is consumed by bhagats (devotees) who come here to pay their respects to me". He adds, that the devotees are not only given ganja they are also given free meals.

A Mumbai based ganja dealer who is currently camping in Simhastha area, said that this provided them an opportunity to make a fast buck. He said that during this time the sadhus are generally willing to sped a little more than usual on the stuff, which allows the dealers to hike prices.

Most of the ganja supplied in the fair comes from within the State of Madhya Pradesh, said a dealer, adding that on special request they also procure the stuff from other places like Mumbai and Delhi, which is another reason for the hiked prices.
Ram Giri Baba says that on occasion they get their supply from the local police, who after confiscating the stuff from travelers carrying it illegally sell it at cheap rates. He says that this fact is even known to the local administration. He said that at times, after the fair ends and they start to leave, these very cops even arrest the sadhus for the possession of ganja.

A Canadian born sadhvi takes a drag of ganja filled chillum and then laughs at joke in a Akhara at the Simhastha Kumb Mela in 2004.
*** Scroll down for more on Simhastha ***

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