indiana charas is the name given to a hashish form of cannabis which is handmade in the Indian subcontinent and Jamaica. It is a cannabis concentrate made from the resin of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica). The plant grows wild throughout Northern India along the stretch of the Himalayas (its putative origin) and is an important cash crop for the local people. The difference between charas and hashish is that hashish is made from a dead cannabis plant and charas is made from a live one.
Hashish has been used across the Indian subcontinent for medicinal and religious purposes for thousands of years, and was sold in government shops (along with opium) during the times of the British India and in independent India until the 1980s (marijuana and bhang is still being sold in parts of Rajasthan, India).
Charas plays an important and often integral role in the culture and ritual of certain sects of the Hindu religion, especially among the Shaivs — the sub-division of Hinduism holding Lord Shiva to be the supreme god (in contrast to Vaishnavs who believe Lord Vishnu is the supreme god)—and it is venerated by some as being one of the aspects of Lord Shiva.
indiana charas was made illegal in India under pressure from the United States in the 1980s and severe sentences were introduced for cultivation and trafficking of charas. Even the mere possession had a mandatory ten-year prison sentence. These laws have been relaxed, but charas remains a popular medium for police to extort money from consumers of the drug.
Even at the peak of the crackdown, charas was still popular and remains so today, especially among young professionals and Indian sadhus. The Naga Sadhus, Aghoris and Tantric Bhairava sects smoke it freely as an integral part of their religious practice. Many smoke it in clay pipes called chillums, using a cotton cloth to cover the smoking end of the chillum and inserting a tightly packed pebble-sized cone of clay as filter under the chunk of charas. Before lighting the chillum they will chant the many names of Shiva in veneration. It is regaining the popularity it once enjoyed with the younger generations of India regarding it as a recreational drug of choice. It is freely available in several places around India especially where there is a strong affluence of tourists (Goa, Delhi, Rishikesh, Varanasi, etc.). Although charas can be found in several places around India, its manufacturing can be traced only to specific locations in India
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