Holi can get a little confusing, not least because of the copious amounts of mind-bending substances a lot of us end up consuming. There’s still a lot of confusion about what these different substances are though, however subtle they may be. They’re all derived from the same plant, and they all have strangely similar effects, but it’s the differences that count.

Here’s the difference between things like bhang, charas, ganja and the like!

The Sanskrit word for cannabis or marijuana is ganja 

The Sanskrit word for the dried buds of the cannabis plant, ganja makes you feel relaxed, pleasant and makes music sound freaking amazing. Basically, it’s weed. It’s got innumerable names, from cannabis, to pot, to the sticky icky, to the mean green, but it’s all basically the same thing – ganja, and it’s been in our culture and tradition for centuries.

The resin from rubbing the cannabis flowers on your hand produces charas, or hashish

This is the handmade hashish produced in places such as India, Pakistan, Nepal and Lebanon. Charas is the dark resin collected from the cannabis plant. It is made by rubbing the flowering buds of the plant in the palm for hours on end, and the slower the rub, the better the quality.  

Food or drink infused with a ground cannabis paste is called bhang

An edible preparation of marijuana made from the leaves and stems of the plant. It’s usually found in the form of Thandai, pakoras and halwa. It’s made by grounding the cannabis into a paste and then adding the necessary ingredients, such as ghee, sweets and spices. It’s a staple of the Holi festival and it can get you completely blitzed.

Chewy balls made of bhang and some other substances are called bhola balls

Bhola is a distinctly Indian product. It’s a soft, chewy and greenish ball made primarily from the cannabis plant. It’s essentially bhang, but is usually mixed with some other unfriendly sounding products, which is why it tastes like total garbage. Gets you pretty high though, and it goes for around 1-2 rupees, which is ridiculously cheap..

High times!