So, just what is the definition of ganja? Most of us think about Bob Marley or Jamaica when we hear the word ganja. But is ganja the same thing as pot, weed, and marijuana you ask?
Defined by Potency and Culture, Ganja is a Different Type of High
It is, except that the definition of ganja points to a significantly more potent product than your average weed. It can be up to three times more potent than everyday weed, yet people commonly still use the word when referring to any marijuana. Many people are under the impression that ganja is a word that originated in Jamaica.
While Jamaica does have a long history with ganja, it is not the origin of the cannabis plant.
So then, what exactly is the definition of ganja?
The origin of the word ganja comes from India, not Jamaica. The word ganja comes from the Hindu word gānjā, itself derived from the Sanskrit word for hemp, which is gañjā. Hemp comes from the cannabis plant and is believed to have originated in China. It is believed that cannabis made its way to India approximately 4000 years ago.
In about 2000 B.C. Ganja was found recorded in Hindu texts from this period, and it was thought of as a sacred plant. Legend has it that the Hindu God, Lord Shiva, sought refuge after a family argument and fell asleep under a plant to escape the hot sun. Nourishing himself with leaves of the plant after waking, he became rejuvenated and started using the plant in his favorite foods.
A drink was also crafted from the magical plant, called Bhang. Bhang is made with a mixture of ganja, almonds, pistachios, poppy seeds, pepper, ginger, sugar, and other spices. The mixture is then added to yogurt or milk to make it a drink. The Hindu monks used bhang for meditation and believed that ganja was a sacred plant. They believed that ganja was a source of happiness and liberation from anxiety.
Bhang is also rolled up into small balls for eating. In the Holy Town of Pushkar, which has outlawed alcohol consumption, bhang is on almost every menu. They may have condemned the Bloody Mary, but not Mary Jane. In the Indian Himalayan mountains, ganja grows wild and many locals grow ganja for survival.
Ganja growers in India cultivate cannabis as well as hashish, or charas, which is the sticky resin from the plant. Charas is concentrated and much stronger than bhang. It is usually referred to as pressed hash, and it is smoked from a communal pipe during religious rituals.
When Did Ganja Make it to Jamaica?
Ganja has been used in religious rituals in India and it was also part of spiritual and religious practices in Jamaica. Another thing that may have come to mind when you hear the word ganja might have been Rastafari. Bob Marley was probably the most famous Rastafarian. Rastafarians believe that ganja enhances their spiritual consciousness. The Holy Herb is smoked during worship and to discuss social issues.
Around 1845, ganja was brought to Jamaica by Indian laborers. The British needed labor for their plantations and they brought almost 40,000 people from India to work as indentured servants. Indian laborers intermingled with Jamaican field workers and by the 1900’s, ganja had spread throughout Jamaica.
Many people mix ganja with tobacco to smoke. One reason why is that ganja is more potent than regular weed typically found in the States.People also consume much larger quantities than most Americans because the average smoker in Jamaica smokes daily.
Ganja also doesn’t have the social stigma that it still has in the U.S. It is normal for kids to consume ganja, and they are usually introduced to it during adolescence in tea form before smoking it. People who smoke aren’t vilified, and it is actually those who don’t smoke that have the social stigma.
Other Nicknames for Ganja
Locoweed is one nickname for ganja, but the name is actually the real name of a poisonous plant. It was mixed with other herbs used in Mexico for several purposes, and when many people were leaving Mexico during the Mexican Revolution, they brought all their herbs with them. People lumped in ganja with all Mexican herbs, and ganja became known as locoweed.
Pot was a nickname widely used in the 1970’s. It came from the Spanish word potiguaya, which is a Spanish wine infused with ganja. People started calling it weed around the 1980’s, probably because weeds grow everywhere and ganja was everywhere, or it’s short for locoweed. Mary Jane looked like the word marijuana and the nickname took off as people who were about to smoke ganja would say that they were going to visit Mary Jane. It turned into a euphemism, like the secret handshake or an inside secret.Reefer, dope, bud, and green are other nicknames for ganja.
Whatever you call it, it’s been around a long time, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Hooray for ganja!