The Sacred Lotus


Each day the act of rising, basking and sinking is continued. As a manifestation of natural beauty, the lotus flower (also referred to as the sacred lotus) has a deep connection with the journey of life and this act is one of the most prominent aspects of the plant that has provided so many religions and cultures with deep meaning.

From the roots immersed deep in water, grow a long stem or stalk that remains in the murky water. From the top of the stalk grows the lotus’s leaves and bud. The leaves contain air pockets that help them float on the water’s surface. However, the amount of buoyancy is not guaranteed, and the leaves occasionally stay buried underwater. As for the ones that float atop, water does not hold on its surface; it usually drips off. The bud is constantly above the water’s surface. As the bud opens, its petals are exposed. This is when the various colours of the lotus familia become apparent.

The petals open one by one, slowly welcoming the sunlight and warmth. Once fully opened, the flower is in full bloom. It’s centre is very visible too and this is where its homes its seeds. The flower enjoys warm sunlight and is intolerable of cold weather, which is why you typically won’t find it in the upper highlands of the island. As the sun sets, the flower will begin to close its petals until it is completely in ‘bud’ formation, and bloom once more at dawn and the first rays of light. And this act is repeated every single day.

Symbolism

Cultures many parts of China believe that the stalk of the lotus flower resembles the strength of one’s family and their unbreakable bond. Therefore, you are the blossoming flower above the water’s surface that the stalk supports from beneath.

In Hinduism it is believed that the flower is responsible for removing unwanted energies and other unpleasant things. It is also believed that it symbolizes the concept that humans should be free of desires and material things (much like what practices are encouraged via Buddhism). Hindus associate the flower with the Gods Vishnu and Brahma, and the Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati. To them in terms of faith, it denotes purity and divine beauty. The unfolding leaves represents the expanding of the soul and spiritual awakening.

In Buddhism it primarily signifies purity, of the mind, body and speech. As the flower seemingly floating above murky waters, it symbolizes attachment and desire. Also, the fact that the leaves of the flower dos not hold a single drop of water denotes detachment.

In general however, the cultures in the eastern part of the world and its religions believe the lotus to be a symbol of enlightenment, regeneration and faith.

Egyptians used the flower to represent the creation and rising of the sun. They believe in the legend of the Sun God who birthed from the golden heart of a lotus flower. The flower represented fertility, childbirth, death and everything in between. It is also believed that they used the plant recreationally to provide them with a psychedelic experience, but this is just as highly a speculated notion.

The symbolism of the lotus also varies depending on the stage of the flower. The initial bud represents a person in the early stages of their journey into enlightenment. It shows their potential for what they can achieve. Their strength, courage and determination. The blooming of the flower symbolizes an individual who has fully come of age, or is enlightened; a knowledgeable and wise person.

Facts about the lotus

  • The characteristics of a lotus flower is an ideal analogy for the human condition and life. It’s roots rooted in murky dirty waters depict the hardships and difficulties faced during the life of a human, while its long stem signifies long life. The beautiful ever blooming flower signifies strength, honour as well as good fortune, the ability to face and overcome challenges in the journey of life.  
  • The lotus is that it will not grow in a water source that is properly filtered, clean and mud free. It has a necessity for muddy and murky waters, for its roots to be properly buried and secure. 
  • The lotus is not only admired for its beauty but also for its appealing aroma. 
  • The flowers come in various colorations including yellow, pink, red, blue, purple, and white and each colour symbolizes different aspect. For example, the white lotus denotes purity, the red denotes passion and the yellow denotes compassion. 
  • The petals of the lotus flower can also be used as decoration. In internal parts of the island as well as in many villages close to lakes and rivers, the leaves are used to make temporary hats and the flower and its buds to make garlands.  
  • Traditional Asian cuisine uses the seeds, small leaves, flower (with petals), and roots as ingredients to create meals. The roots are also used to make curries and pickles. The much larger lotus leaves are more commonly used to wrap food. 
  • It’s seeds are used to make rosaries in such parts of Asia.  
  • The lotus simply defies logic; for a seed can withstand thousands of years without water and bloom once immersed even over two centuries later.  
  • Most often the lotus and water lily and confused to be the same flower, but in reality they are not. The most definitive difference is that the lotus stem lifts upward and out of the water, whereas the water lily sits atop water.  
  • In Sri Lanka, the most ancient depiction of the lotus in a painting dates as far back as the Third Century BC, and has been repeated over the centuries in temple paintings and as motifs on traditional moonstones.  
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