Monday, April 20, 2009
420, The Real Story
It's April 20
Two days before Earth Day
Eleven days till May Day
And a date celebrated by many a pothead . . .
Alas, I have no sweet tasty nuggets to celebrate (for the moment), but still am given pause to think of the origins of this odd subcultural celebration.
One rumor (promoted by High Times) is that some dudes in California decided to meet every day after school at 4:20 to puff. Various other proposals have been made as to the origins of this now internationally recognized code for smoking herb.
I believe, however, that the truth of this symbolic referent comes (as have so many things in this world) from India. In India and Pakistan, the term "420" has long been synonomous with "corruption" or "graft," as section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, established in 1860, covers this area of offense.
The exceedingly popular 1950's Indian film "Shri 420" ("Mr. 420") is about a fella falsely thought to be a con-man. In my assessment, the American use of "420" as slang for smoking herb likely derived from hippies travelling the Hippie Trail through Asia, who likely picked up on the term from the Indian/Pakistany usage, and decided smoking herb to be symbolic of burnin' "the Man," else otherwise symbolically burning the corruptions they viewed at home in America.
Regardless of the precise mode by which "420" was transmitted from India to America, and specifically pot smokin' culture, I am convinced that India's usage of the term is whence derives the American usage.
Happy 420, regardless!!