Why do Thai people offer a lotus flower to Buddha?
Have you seen these gorgeous flowers before? In how many colours? If you have been to Thailand, you may have noticed that there are a lot of beautiful white, pink, red, purple or blue lotus flowers in natural ponds or lotus basins.
You might also be surprised to discover that every time you visit a Thai temple, you can see the locals often praying in front of the Buddha statues with their offerings. They usually include a candle, 3 incense sticks and a lotus. Why is that? What is the meaning behind this beauty?
Keep reading to find the answer to your question!
Lotus flowers in Thailand
Talay Bua Daeng or The Red Lotus Sea in Udon Thani.
‘บัว’ or ‘Bua’ is how Thai people call their lotus flowers. They are native to Southeast Asia and can be commonly seen in Thailand. They usually grow easily in natural ponds and spread out quickly in water.
If you want to experience the sea of million lotus flowers, you should visit ‘ทะเลบัวแดง’ or ‘Talay Bua Daeng’ (the Red Lotus Sea) which is located in Udon Thani, in Northeastern Thailand.
Lotus flowers are incredibly useful. All parts of them are edible and can be used as medicine to improve blood circulation and the digestive system.
Also, since lotus flowers are beautiful and often associated with Buddhism, as well as an auspicious symbol, Thai people plant them in basins at home to increase their good fortune.
Symbolism in Buddhism
Generally, the lotus flower is regarded as a symbol of purity, faithfulness and spiritual awakening. This is because the lotus itself emerges from the mud and keeps growing toward the light and warmth, representing the act of rising above the sea of defilement while aspiring for enlightenment.
Interestingly, different colours of lotus flowers are associated with different meanings. For instance, blue represents wisdom, white symbolises spiritual perfection or pink represents the Buddha.
The lotus is often associated with Buddha himself. Legend has it that once Buddha was born, he was able to walk right away. And, as he took his first steps, lotus flowers grew on the ground to support his soles. Buddha also preached about the 4-stage growth of a lotus and how it represents people aspiring for enlightenment.
Moreover, in Thailand, most mural paintings in Buddhist temples feature lotus flowers beneath Buddha in various gestures. It can often be seen that the Buddha statues are built sitting on a lotus throne.
Why do Thai people offer lotus flowers to Buddha statues?
Since the lotus flowers in Thailand are ubiquitous, uniquely exquisite, have symbolic meanings and are often associated with Buddhism, it is indubitable that Thai people usually offer them to the Buddha statues, along with a candle and 3 incense sticks. They believe that, by offering nice things to Buddha, they will accumulate merit and thus attract good fortune into their life.
Some people also fold lotus petals in order to add to the beauty of the already beautiful flowers.
Moreover, many believe that they will eventually attain enlightenment, just like how the lotus rises and blooms above the water.
I hope this gives you a new perspective on the lotus flower and how it is associated with Buddhism. If you are in Thailand, don’t forget to offer the Buddha statues a lotus and ‘wai phra’ (paying respect to the monk / Buddha statue) as this is not an activity which is only exclusive to the Thais or Buddhists.
See you next time!
By Kruu Guggwang