The lotus plays a very important part in Thai life. It is the country's most common flower that can be found in ponds, swamps, small canals, roadside ditches, even in jars and on top of pillars in temples.
Five kinds of lotus are mentioned in Thai literature. The flower's rich symbolism has embellished Thai literature since ancient times. The lotus is associated with heavenly beings. Many Brahman goddesses, have lotus blooms in their hand when portrayed in paintings. A variety of water-lilies share the same Thai name as the lotus.
There are three names in Thai for lotus and water-lilies:
These names are popularly used to name people, monasteries, provinces, districts and villages because of their favourable connotations.
The Lord Buddha compares man to four states of the lotus. Thai Buddhists always use the lotus in paying homage to the image of the Buddha. In this symbolic act, three lotus blooms are offered for the three gems or Rattanatrai.
The lotus has many other uses. It has medicinal values in its petals, stamen and root. The seeds and the young leaves are delicious. The large tough leaf can be used to wrap cooked food. Their handicrafts are inspired by the flower's form and beauty.
Thai Life by Absorn Ounayakawit (1972)
Pictures Copyright: Panrit Daoruang