Lotus Flowers – Vietnam Culture
Lotus flowers, although nurtured in mud, have been cherished as a rare species of flower by the Vietnamese people. Lotus flowers are beautiful in both appearance and smell. Untouched by the impurity, lotus symbolizes the purity of heart and mind. The lotus flower represents long life, health, honor and good luck.
Starting life as a seed, it grows in the muddy darkness at the bottom of a pond. The darkness is like our ignorance – we can’t clearly see the truth about life. The seed grows toward the warmth and light of the sun just as humans naturally grow toward the warmth of love and compassion, and toward the light of truth. The grow toward flower floats on the surface, bathing in the full light of the sun, well ‘anchored’ but moving freely according to the flow of the water – the changing current of any situation.
In Vietnam, the lotus is classified as one the four gentlemanly flowers along with pine, bamboo, and chrysanthemum. The lotus is also classified as one in the four qui (four seasons), which also includes orchid, chrysanthemum, and apricot. Lotus is the symbol of summer because it blossoms in summer when there is a lot of sunlight and its scent lightly perfumes the air all around the pond. At night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.
Lotus flowers are used in different ways: the flowers are offered to deities, the seeds are used for tea, and the leaves are used to wrap green rice. Lotus seeds can also be made into a tonic medicine and anesthetic and into an ingredient for sweet soup and other recipes.