Tuesday, April 20, 2010
420: The Real History . . .
It's April 20
Two days before Earth Day
Eleven days till May Day
One day before the Ani Difranco show here at 7200 ft. high in the sky.
And a date celebrated by many a hippie, head, stoner, and cancer patient across this land and overseas . . .
This year as opposed to last when a slightly different version of this post was posted, I have sweet tasty nuggets to celebrate (for the moment), but still am given pause to think of the origins of this unique subcultural celebration, the only widely recognized day devoted to the consumption of a plant. There's no big day where people gather worldwide to celebrate tobacco, nor even roses, nor kumquats.
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 originated (as have so many things in this world) in India, on the Hippie Trail of days of somewhat yore (some sections not so safe these days). 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 and abroad, and perhaps within themselves.
Regardless of the precise mode by which "420" was transmitted from India to America, and specifically pot smokin' culture, I am rather well convinced that India's usage of the term is whence derives the American usage.
Happy 420, regardless!!