1. Mahashivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated by the devotees of Lord Shiva — the Hindu god of creation and destruction.
3. Hindus mark the festival of Mahashivratri or the "Great Night of Lord Shiva" by offering prayers, fasting and meditating.
5. This year the festival was celebrated in India and Nepal on Feb. 27.
7. By some accounts, Mahashivratri marks the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati — the Hindu goddess of love and devotion.
9. By other accounts, Mahashivratri signifies the night Lord Shiva performed the "Tandava," the cosmic dance that symbolizes the creation, conservation, and destruction of the universe.
11. Every year, hundreds of Hindu "sadhus" (holy men) travel to the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, to take part in Mahashivratri celebrations.
14. The "sadhus" mark the festival by praying, meditating, smoking some form of cannabis, and smearing their bodies with ash.
15. So do some holy women.
17. The holy men smoke cannabis which has mythological and spiritual associations with Lord Shiva.
19. Although marijuana is illegal in Nepal, only the "sadhus" are legally permitted to smoke it for religious rituals inside the Pashupatinath temple.
21. The holy men are not permitted to sell or distribute drugs to ordinary devotees and pilgrims.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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