For thousands of years, cannabis has been intrinsic to central Asian history, culture, and religion, with charas serving as a primary example.
Growing wildly and freely in the area, locals quickly learned of the benefits and utility of the hemp and cannabis plants, incorporating them into several aspects of their daily lives. From all those generations ago to the present day, cannabis remains a staple in Indian culture and religion and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.
Since the discovery and introduction of cannabis to the Indian culture and civilization, it has become so significant that it became intertwined with its religion, with one god, in particular, commonly associated with the herb.
That said, locals prefer not to smoke standard dry cannabis flower in its natural state. Instead, they devised an innovative and unique method for enjoying its benefits that closely adhered to their customs and beliefs. Two of the most prominent cannabis products are charas and bhang, or bhang lassi, as it’s known in India.
If you’re interested in learning more about the weed-infused beverage, bhang, we’ve got you covered. You can check out our in-depth article on this product here.
Today, we’re providing more information and context surrounding charas, how it’s made, and how to use it.
Without further delay, let’s get into it!
What Exactly is Charas?
Charas is the name given to a handmade cannabis concentrate that is strikingly similar to hashish. It is most commonly found in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal.
In fact, this type of cannabis concentrate is made in a very similar fashion where producers gather the resin from live cannabis plants and form them into spheres to be smoked in a chillum.
However, while they share many similarities, there is a slight difference between charas and traditional forms of hashish.
Where many standard forms of hash use fully cured cannabis as the main ingredient, charas utilizes the cannabis flowers of a live plant that is approximately 2-3 weeks away from its full maturation.
The result is a more fragrant and flavourful concentrate that is akin to many types of artisanal hash.
Unlike the weed-infused beverage bhang, charas is not technically legal in India, even though it has a deep connection to the region’s religion. After receiving pressure from the United States in the 1980s, India officially made charas and other forms of cannabis illegal.
However, charas is still typically consumed during Hindu festivals, including Holi and Maha Shivaratri, along with bhang.
Where do Charas Come From?
It is believed that the cannabis plant originally came from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. Having naturally grown in the area, many of the surrounding regions like the Parvati Valley have had the luxury to experiment with the cannabis plant, ultimately resulting in the creation of charas.
Today, many cannabis enthusiasts and strain hunters frequent the area in search of exclusive landrace strains and variants of charas including one of the most popular versions of the region called Malana Cream.
Malana Cream is specifically recognized for its high THC content. Other popular strains include the likes of Idukki Gold and Kerala Gold.
The Cultural Role of Charas
In Indian culture and the Hindu religion, cannabis is seen as a sacred plant. In fact, it has become an intrinsic part of their religious culture, with devotees of the Hindu religion consuming cannabis products during multiple festivals, which we outlined above.
In Hinduism, cannabis is closely tied to the gods. In fact, there is a God specifically dedicated to the use and worship of cannabis.
Lord Shiva, or “Lord of Bhang,” as the God is more commonly known, is a key figure in Hindu mythology and an advocate for the healing and spiritual benefits of cannabis.
According to legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva used cannabis to achieve spiritual enlightenment through deep introspection and reflection.
How is Charas Made?
Charas is a time-honoured concentrate that is typically handmade. Due to the nature of its creation, making charas is a lengthy and involved process that may take several hours to complete.
Producers will typically utilize the flowers of fresh cannabis plants about 2-3 weeks away from full maturation. It takes several grams of cannabis even to create a single gram of charas.
Producers will grab cannabis buds and rub them between the palms of their hands until they transfer their resin to the producer’s hands. Once enough resin has been extracted, producers will then form a sphere with the resin and place it on a stick to be held and stored.
The final product is a sphere of charas that is almost black in colour. However, it also sometimes has a dark green hue.
Is Charas Legal in India?
As we stated previously, even though cannabis is intrinsic to Indian culture and religion, charas is deemed illegal alongside traditional cannabis. The only legal way to consume cannabis in India is by drinking bhang.
Despite current illegality, as support for cannabis legalization in India grows, tied in with the country’s modernization, there is a fair chance of legalization occurring in the near future.
This effort can be seen with The Great Legalisation Movement India (GLM India) being developed prior to the cause. Additionally, Bangalore recently opened its first medical cannabis dispensary.
This increase in advocacy could be the driving force necessary to eliminate the stigma surrounding cannabis in India.
What is the Difference Between Bhang and Charas?
Of the two most popular cannabis creations in Indian history, there is a vast difference between bhang and charas.
Charas, for the most part, is akin to hash, a type of cannabis concentrate that is handmade from the trichomes and resin of cannabis flowers.
Bhang, on the other hand, is a medicated weed-infused drink made from the trim of cannabis flowers along with milk, water, and nuts.
Ultimately, users smoke charas and drink bhang.
How to Smoke Charas
Traditionally, a weed pipe known as chillum was used to smoke charas. However, thanks to its easily malleable form, charas can be retrofitted to be rolled joints and blunts to increase their potency further.
When smoking charas through a chillum, simply place the ball of concentrate into the bowl and ignite it while inhaling steadily.
When smoking charas in a joint, simply roll the concentrate into a thin snake-like form and place it alongside the ground cannabis. For blunts, follow the same procedure as joints.
Alternatively, if you would rather not smoke the charas, you can use a dab rig to vaporize it like any other type of hashish or concentrate.
Can You Eat Charas?
Although it isn’t advised, you can definitely eat charas, but it won’t do much to you.
The resin and the cannabinoids in the charas have not been fully decarboxylated, so it will not produce any significant psychoactive effects.
That said, if you got the money to spend and are curious about how it tastes, go for it.
Charas – From Tradition to Modern Day
Despite the prohibition of cannabis in India, many people throughout the country enjoy charas as it is deeply ingrained in their religious and cultural history.
Today, charas still stands as a time-honoured concentrate with a rich history and deep cultural ties. Should you visit India and choose to try it out for yourself, be aware that it is a concentrated form of cannabis and, therefore, more potent than regular dry cannabis flower.
Therefore, approach it cautiously. You can always smoke more, but you can never smoke less.
That said, if you think you could walk into a dispensary in North America to pick up some charas, you’d be out of luck. Neither dispensaries nor mail-order marijuana retailers carry this product for multiple reasons.
The primary cause for this decision is that charas is not easily regulated for quality assurance. In other words, since it’s handmade, you can’t legitimately ensure that you know where the producer’s hands have been, which is kind of gross when you think about it.
However, you’re not out of luck entirely! There are many hash options available through our Buy Low Green online store that are just as if not more potent, safer and high-quality alternatives to get your traditional cannabis concentrate fix.
Visit our website today to see all of the products we have to offer. We’re sure you’ll find something that tickles your fancy!