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Thailand - Flora - Lotus Flower
Tha lotus flower is one of the most popular flowers in Thailand. The lotus blossom features in Thai art, architecture and features highly in the culture of the nation.
The Thai greeting "Sawatdi" has the hands in the shape of a lotus flower bud held against the heart.
Not only are the lotus's flowers highly decorative but the whole plant can be eaten too! The seed is the 'lotus nut' - that resembles a 'straight' rounded end peanut - when cooked it is softer, milder and will absorb spices and flavours easily.
The main root ot the lotus plant is treated like any other root vegetable - the stem is treated the same way as a firm vegetable. The young leaves can be eaten like spinach or cabbage and older leaves can also be used to wrap other foods in for steaming. The buds and flowers can be cooked and eaten too!
Many craftsmen, artists and table decorators have their handicrafts influenced by the lotus flower's form and beauty.
The lotus plant and flower plays a very important part in Thai life both symbolic and culturally. It is one of the country's most common flowers. The lotus flower can be found growing wild in in many of Thailand's canals, ditches, ponds, riversides, swamps. The lotus flower is cultivated as a decorative cut flower and culinary plant.
The Lord Buddha compares man to four states of the lotus. Thai Buddhists often use the lotus flower 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 flower is associated with other heavenly beings. Many Brahman goddesses have lotus flowers or buds in their hands when portrayed in paintings or sculpture. There are varieties of water-lilies share the same Thai name as the lotus.
There are three names in Thai for lotus and water-lilies: Bua, Pathum and Ubon - These names are popularly used to name districts, monasteries, people, provinces and villages because of their favourable connotations.
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