• Nitika Mehra

Sacred Lotus: Most Beautiful Flower That Has Historical, Cultural, Spiritual & Health Significance

Lotus flower meaning scared, blooms in the dirtiest of waters and swamps but however, it is one of the most beautiful flowers you would ever see. The lotus flowers open their petals with the rays of sunlight and again close their petals at sunset. The spiritual meaning of the flower is rebirth and resurrection. Lotus flowers bring a sense of positivity and calmness into the atmosphere. In eastern cultures, it is held as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, rebirth and healing. It teaches us about beauty and non attachment.





GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE


Given its deep symbolic meanings and connection to religion, the lotus flower is considered one of the most sacred plants and also holds a special role in human health. Because of its richness in nutrients and bioactive substances, the Chinese Ministry of Health approved the use of N. nucifera as both "food and medicine". Sacred Lotus, also known as Nelumbo nucifera , is one of two extant species of aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. The lotus is a bowl-shaped perennial and is often confused with water lilies. There are over 100 species of lotus. Also it is the national flower of India and Vietnam.


Sacred Lotus: Most Beautiful Flower That Has Historical, Cultural, Spiritual & Health Significance

Lotus has a very long history (c. 3,000 years) of being cultivated for its edible seeds, and it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. Under favorable circumstances, the seeds of this aquatic perennial may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China. Therefore, the Chinese regard the plant as a symbol of longevity. About 70% of lotus for the human consumption is produced in China.


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The lotus is available in various colors such as white, pink, and the rare blue. The blue lotus only grows in the Himalayas. Some cultivated varieties have extraordinary numbers of petals. For example, the Chinese variety Qian Ban Lean can have between 3000 and 4000 petals in a single blossom and the Japanese variety Ohmi Myoren can have between 2000 and 5000 petals, the greatest number recorded for any species of plant. Bingdi lotus or Bingtou lotus, is a species of lotus native to China that carries a pair of flowers on each flower stalk, whereas there is only a single flower on most other species of lotus. Bingdi lotus belongs to a special type named Qianban lotus and is a treasure among flowers because it has all the essential parts of both the leaves and lotus. In Chinese tradition, Bingdi lotuses are considered both auspicious and joyous and as an embodiment of kindness and beauty.





HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE


Lotus rhizomes have a crunchy texture with sweet-tangy flavours and are a classic dish at many banquets, where they are deep-fried, stir-fried, or stuffed with meats or preserved fruits. Rhizomes is a continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals. They are consumed as a vegetable in Asian countries, extensively in China, Japan, and India, sold whole or in cut pieces, fresh, frozen, or canned. They are fried or cooked mostly in soups, soaked in syrup or pickled in vinegar (with sugar, chili and garlic). Salads with prawns, sesame oil or coriander leaves are also popular. Fresh lotus root slices are limited by a fast browning rate. Lotus root tea is consumed in Korea. Lotus root is a popular vegetable in Sri Lanka, where it is often cooked in coconut milk gravy. In India, lotus root (also known as kamal kakdi) is cooked as a dry curry or sabzi.


Lotus root is a moderate calorie root vegetable (100 g of root-stem provides about 74 calories) and is composed of several vitamins, minerals, and nutrients: 83.80% water, 0.11% fat, 1.56% reducing sugar, 0.41% sucrose, 2.70% crude protein, 9.25% starch, 0.80% fiber, 0.10% ash and 0.06% calcium. 100 g of root provides 44 mg of vitamin C or 73% of daily recommended values (RDA).


Sacred Lotus: Most Beautiful Flower That Has Historical, Cultural, Spiritual & Health Significance

Fresh lotus seeds are nutritious but also vulnerable to microbial contamination, especially fungal infections. Therefore, mostly dry lotus seed-based products are found on the market. Traditional Eastern medicine claims that fresh lotus seed wine has thirst-quenching, spleen-healing and anti-diarrheal advantages after drinking, attributed to unspecified bioactive compounds. Lotus seed tea is consumed in Korea, and lotus embryo tea is consumed in China and Vietnam.


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Not only do these seeds contain proteins of high quality and are rich in variety of essential amino acids including high contents of albumin (42%) and globulin (27%), they also contain unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and other trace elements. They also provide water-soluble polysaccharides, alkaloids, flavonoids, superoxide dismutase and other bioactive components. Lotus seed also contain particularly large amounts of vitamins, including VB1, VB2, VB6 and Vitamin E. The functional components (polyphenols, protein, polysaccharides) in lotus seeds can help combatting high blood pressure, diabetes and gallstones. Lotus seed's water-soluble polysaccharides have also been shown to promote lymphocyte transformation and enhance the immune function.


Sacred Lotus: Most Beautiful Flower That Has Historical, Cultural, Spiritual & Health Significance

Lotus leaf is used as a wrap for steaming rice and sticky rice and other steamed dishes in Southeast Asian cuisine, fried rice wrapped in lotus leaf in Thai cuisine. Vietnamese also use lotus leaves to wrap green young rice, which is eaten in autumn. The leaves impart a unique scent to the soft moist rice.


Traditionally rhizomes, leaves, and seeds have been used as folk medicines, Ayurveda, Chinese traditional medicine, and oriental medicine. The lotus flowers are ground to make a paste, which is then applied to the skin. This paste will moisturize the skin, making your skin have a youthful appearance. Also used for lowering blood sugar levels, diarrhea, cholera, fever, and hyperdipsia. Lotus leaves are used for hematemesis, epistaxis, and hematuria. Rhizomes are promoted have purported diuretic, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. In Chinese medicine, seeds are still used as Lian Zi Xin.





CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE

Nelumbo nucifera is the species of lotus that also has historical cultural and spiritual significance. It is a sacred flower in both Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the path to spiritual awakening and enlightenment.


In Christianity the lotus flower is often associated with the apostle Thomas and his coming to India. It was also an important symbol in ancient Egypt, where it represented the path from death to rebirth to the afterlife.


The lotus flower is used for the worship of many Hindu gods and goddesses. The rare blue lotus is used to worship the Hindu God Shiva.


The lotus has also been held by Gautam Buddha who attained enlightenment and achieved the state of gods. Gautam Buddha is also portrayed sitting on a lotus because it is believed that he will have a rebirth. A unique fabric called lotus silk, from the lotus plant fibers, is produced only at Inle lake, Myanmar and in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This thread is used for weaving special robes for Buddha images called kya thingan (lotus robe).





The lotus flower is used as an analogy for how to live life, as explained by Bhai Gurdas Ji, an influential Sikh figure and writer. These writings are referred to as keys to understanding Gurbani and grasping the basics of Sikhism. Accordingly, just as the lotus remains unsullied in the water, you must stay unaffected by the evils of the world. Another important point is the idea that as the lotus loves the sun and blooms for it, so will the person who, through loving devotion, know the Lord. Those are just two of the many references he makes to the lotus flower throughout his teachings. It is mentioned an estimated 420 times as representing the human soul.


Sacred Lotus: Most Beautiful Flower That Has Historical, Cultural, Spiritual & Health Significance

If you practice yoga or meditation, the Lotus Pose popularly called Padmasana is one of the most fundamental and oft-assumed positions for deep breathing. Here, the body is seated with the ankles crossed while the soles of the feet face the sky. The back is straight and the arms rest peacefully on the knees. The Lotus Pose allows one to achieve the highest concentration possible for meditation. This hip-opener is also said to awaken dormant cosmic energy known as kundalini.


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The petals of the lotus flower are arranged in layers, and when the flower blooms, each layer opens to reveal the ones inside. This has also been used as a metaphor to describe how we attain higher levels of self-realisation, which lead to the concept of the lotus as the seven chakras. When each chakra becomes activated, each lotus petal of the chakra can be thought of as opening and “blooming” along with a person’s energy.




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