The sacred Lotus flower of the Thai people

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The sacred Lotus Flower of Thailand.

One of the things I couldn´t help to notice when I was in Thailand were the beautiful white and pink flowers that were in ponds, close to the Buddha´s and sometimes in the most unexpected places. I did not know the flower and first I thought it might be some kind of a water-lily. But I made quite an interesting discovery after I had a chat to one of the locals.

The flower that I am referring to is the Lotus flower. They are typically found in shallow water and love the tropical climate that most Asian countries have to offer. It is the most important flower in Thai history and is associated with Brahmanism and Buddhism. I was told that many goddesses that are known to the Thai people are depicted in paintings with lotus blooms in their hands. It is a sacred flower for the Thai people because it is the traditional flower of Buddhism and it is also the symbol of feminine beauty. Even poets have dedicated poems to it!

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Peacefully floating.

What is the meaning of Lotus in Thai?

This flower is called “bua” in Thai. But the Thai word has a broader meaning: it is used as the common name for three main varieties of water-lilies: First, bua luang or pathum (Nelumbo nucifera), which is the equivalent of the lotus and the chief concern of this article; secondly, bua sai or ubon (Nymphaea lotus), another kind of water-lily whose leaves float on the water surface and whose stem is edible; and thirdly, bua kradong (Victoria sp.), whose round leaves, also floating on water but turning upwards at the edge, are as large as a dining table and whose flowers have a stronger fragrance than the other two varieties. So in a way I wasn´t wrong about the water -lily version.

I have seen so many of these beautiful flowers close to temples and the Buddha statues. Legend has it that Buddha was able to walk after he was born and when he took his first steps in this mortal world, lotus blooms opened up from underneath to support the tender soles of his feet.

In murals in Buddhist temples and in other paintings with a Buddhist theme, the Buddha is invariably portrayed, from Birth to Nirvana, with one or more lotus flowers beneath him, whether he is sitting, standing, walking, or reclining. The Buddha images, too, are usually placed on a seat in the form of a lotus.

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Me in one of the temples in Bangkok with the Lotus flowers.

The lotus flower is not only used in offerings. The plant is useful in several other ways. The petals, roots and stamens have medicinal values. They are also used as ingredients of various recipes prescribed by traditional herbalists. Almost every part of the Lotus flower is edible. Its dried seeds boiled in syrup, sometimes with crushed ice added, is a popular sweet. Its root, cut into thin slices and boiled with pork ribs, is a delicious soup. The crisp young leaf and the long fleshy stem of the bua sai are also made into different tasty dishes. Even the large leaf, which is too tough to eat is sometimes used to wrap rice which, when steamed, has the subtle aroma of the leaf.

After my chat I looked at this flower differently. It gave me a new respect for the Thai culture, people and their beliefs!

Lotus Trivia.

  • Lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam.
  •  In Egypt the Lotus Flowers are considered to auspicious because they are regarded as the symbol of Sun God.
  •  Lotus seeds are medicinal in nature and are used for the treatment of kidney, spleen, and heart ailments. They are also considered beneficial in the treatment of Leucorrhea, palpitation and insomnia.
  •  Lotus seeds are also used as antidotes in mushroom poisoning.
  • The seeds, leaves and tubers of the Lotus Flower are edible.

This beautiful quote came from a fellow blogger Alpana. Thank you for sharing it with us.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.” – Buddha quote

Where: Thailand
Date: March 2013

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

22 Comments

  1. In Indian culture it is very important too – symbolizing purity. Indeed, it is our national flower. Great post, as always, Nelieta.

    1. Hi Corinne thank you very much for the link that you have posted on my wall. I did not know that it is so important in India too. Well, I found the article fascinating and I have included the trivia section on my blog! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hello Nelieta -When I lived in Hong Kong back in the 1990s, I met a lot of Thai girls working and living there. Some of them joined my health and nutrition business. One thing I observed about many of the women, is that they often wore a flower in their hair. I never saw this with any of the other cultures in HK, for example, the Chinese or Pinay girls did not do this. Is this a tradition and is the flower they often wore in their hair, the Lotus Flower? Thank you. 🙂

    1. Hi Charlie, I am not an expert on the field but yes I have seen a lot of Thai girls wearing the Lotus flower in their hair, especially when they were dancing. I have read that the flower is a symbol of purity but maybe we have a Thai person reading the blog and they could answer the question.It must have been amazing to live in Hong Kong! Busy,busy,busy 🙂

  3. Hi Nelieta,Thanks for dropping by and leaving lovely comment , really you have a great blog ..with in depth details and great Photography 🙂 Buddhism is followed and practiced all over the work and the beauty is that it approaches every humans life in helping en-lighting his/her inner-self and the positive energy it generated and also enhances the life of ppl in touch.Nice read.take careKeep smiling.

    1. Hi Vivek, loved your blog and will be stopping by again 🙂 I find it very interesting to learn about other cultures and their religion. I had a wonderful time in Thailand and I have learned so much 🙂 Have a wonderful day!Nelieta

  4. WOW! Absolutely beautiful flowers and great background on history! Wish I could grow some of these in my back yard 🙂

    1. Hi Mary, sometimes we overlook the small things in life. I couldn´t help to notice all the flowers and I knew there had to be a deeper meaning. I am so happy I asked the question because now I have a much better understanding 🙂 Have a great day!

  5. You must be a Lotus, unfolding its petals when the Sun rises in the sky, unaffected by the slush where it is born or even the water which sustains it!~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba The "LOTUS" is also the National flower of our country..great post..Nelieta.

  6. A beautiful post as always Nelieta. The lotus is found in India everywhere growing wild. We have pink, white as well as blue lotuses here. We also eat the stems of lotuses. Like Buddha the India goddess of knowledge Saraswati sits on a lotus. Thank you for sharing this

Thank you for visiting. Have a fabulous day!

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