A Shadu, or holy man, exhales cannabis smoke during Maha Shivaratri celebrations on Feb. 17, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo credit: Omar Havana/Getty Images)
Smoking weed is an act of holy devotion at this Hindu festival honoring the god Shiva.
Monday marks the eve of Maha Shivratri, a Hindu celebration commemorating the day the god Shiva saved the universe from darkness and married the goddess Parvati.
Shiva is one of three major Hindu gods, and he’s a pretty well-known pothead, as reported by National Public Radio.
Hindu ascetics travel from across the region to reach Nepal’s holy Pashupati Temple to take part in the festival honoring Shiva, which is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha, according to the Hindu calendar.
“Shiva loves marijuana. So we come to share Shiva’s prasad [offerings] with everyone else,” a 60-year-old holy man by the name of Radhe Baba told NPR.
Baba is one of hundreds of holy men and women who have traveled to the Pashupati Temple to honor Shiva.
Observers spend the days leading up to the holiday praying, fasting and making holy offerings such as smoking marijuana from clay pipes. Marijuana and hashish are symbols of religious devotion and it’s said Shiva used the substances to relax and focus on meditation.
It’s scenes like this that made Kathmandu famous among hippies. Indeed a few days before Shiva Ratri, Pashupatinath had the vibe of a relaxed music festival. It’s a little more like Bonnaroo by the time over a million devotees have arrived for the big day.