Lotus is a popular natural flower which I grew up to see it everywhere – markets, flower stores, along streets, temples, and farms or ponds. Since migrated to Australia, I really miss the liveable and busy street foods and shops, especially my mum’s cooking, with every part of lotus. Finding a place to resume my childhood and good memories I was growing up back at home is so relaxing and mesmerising. So far I have found two of places in Melbourne where I can easily reach – Melbourne Royal Botanical Garden and Blue Lotus Water Garden – gardens filled with lotus and water-lilies. Lotus is traditionally and scientifically proven to be useful for our everyday needs with its multi-functional benefits.
Beauty and strength representation: There is a popular Asian saying ‘a pond without lotus is like a home without women’. Lotus symbolises women and beauty. Impressively, there are more than 3000 Apsara dancers – beautiful female creatures that visit Earth from heaven to entertain both gods and kings with their enchanting dance – with and without lotus embellished with the stone walls of temples in Angkor era in Cambodia. These are the traditional Hindu representations of feminine beauty, elegance and refinement. Other cultures see the strong stem of the Lotus which supports the flower from underneath the water, as the strength of their family with an unbreakable bond.
Religions: Literally, lotus grows from muddy conditions in water but it rises to the top of water with strength and flexibility to form beautifully standout flower with sweet aroma. In Buddhism, it reflects a person’s determination and the cleansing process (after experiencing suffering) on how actual lotus grows. Noticeably, it also depicts detachments by reminding people to let go of desires as it is believed in the way water slides off lotus petals.
A similar pattern continues with Hinduism, the religion believing that the Lotus Flower represents the removal of unwanted energy, desires, material things and other undesirables.
Cosmetics: Lotus is found to be rich in anti-oxidants, anti-aging benefits and lightening the pigment. It is not only such a great ingredient for dry and flaky skin, but it also helps balance the oil production for acne-prone skin. The latest product of Skinstitut that I like the most is Lotus Tencel of face masks that are available for all four skin concerns – hydrating, brightening, calming and anti-ageing. Lotus Tencel in Skinstitut is a functional cellulose fibre modified by plant protein, which consists of active substances of lotus leaf and seeds extracts and cellulose. Those mask are made from lotus fibre which is bio-degradable and environment-friendly. One more thing is it’s good to use on hair too as it prevents hair greying and conditions the hair to keep it shiny and frizz control.
Fabrics: People now modernise lotus fibre into luxury fashion, and of course – during Covid period, it’s also designed as reusable face masks. Through a detailed process, the fibre from green and muddy stem are converted into white gold – shimmering threads of lotus fibre that is fast becoming coveted luxury and sustainable fabrics. There is one organisation that supports and empowers women through this handmade lotus-fibre fabrics production called Samotoa.
Food: Lotus is my favourite food at all times. I love it in every style of cooking – fried, stir-fried, salad, soup and even dessert. The seeds of lotus looks like the fruit of oak tree but taste so good – just my nutty snack (but not good for those with constipation), and they are fresh, boiled, and roasted – seasoned with different flavours. Of course, the roasted ones are not good for your teeth either – they are just too hard. Lotus grows wild in Cambodia and is also cultivated. We consume everything of lotus – nothing to be wasted ranging from the top flowers down to the stems and roots.
Decoration: Just like other flowers, it’s also used for decorations. You can adorn with closed or open lotus flowers, but it best suits with folding styles, or dry styles for long-term use.
Herbal Medicine: Cambodian people also use it as traditional medicines. According to Healthline, Lotus are used for:
- Halt diarrhoea: soak lotus seeds in a warm water for a few hours and add rock sugar to your taste. Those who have constipation should avoid this.
- Lower blood sugar and cholesterol: Lotus roots with fibre and carbohydrates to manage the blood sugar and cholesterol and maintain slow steady digestive process.
- Relieve inflammatory: Lotus plumule containing polysaccharides have significant anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Minimise breakouts: add lotus to green tea and applying it to the face can significantly reduce the amount of sebum produced in glands.
- Ease period pain: drink lotus roots or lotus soup (either leaves or roots) help regulate the menstrual cycle, stop excess bleeding and avoid anemia.
- Soothe your cough: mix lotus seed powder with honey.
- Lotus is a symbol of healing so lotus seed embryo is expected to be potentially able to kill and hinder the spread of lung cancer cells.
Differences between lotus and water-lily: Some people get confused over these two as they are very much a like. They both live in water and have the same benefits, but they are from different family flower. It can easily be distinguished between the two – the leaves and flowers of lotus are emergent, meaning that they rise above the water level while those of water-lily are floating.
Color of Lotus: Based on Buddhist symbols, there are 6 colors, which are pink, blue, red, purple, white and gold. Large pink lotus and large white lotus are common in Cambodia.
- Red represents the emotional attachments to the heart – its purity, original nature, compassion, passion, love and other qualities.
- White symbolises spiritual perfection and complete mental purity.
- Pink represents the Buddha – history and legend of himself, and is the supreme lotus.
- Blue means wisdom, knowledge and intelligence.
- Purple means spirituality and mysticism.
- Gold symbolises a complete and total enlightenment.
LIKE WATER OFF LOTUS LEAF- same meaning to old western saying ‘like water off duck’s back’ – emphasized that it’s not having effects on the person criticised.Khmer old saying
What to do with lotus leaf? Before having plastic bag and with now plastic ban, Khmer people use it as an organic package bag for food and to wrap food for cooking. When I was young, it was commonly used to pack the freshly cooked Khmer noodles – Nom Banh Chok (នំបញ្ចុក).