Flowers in Thai Buddhism

Buddhism, the dominant religion in Thailand, has many ties to nature and mother earth. The religion teaches open mindedness and acceptance, and has attached meaning to many items in nature to these concepts or principles. Flowers are a meaningful symbol in the Buddhist culture in Thailand, and many of these flowers have sacred meanings or qualities about them. The following is a brief overview of the different beautiful flowers of Thailand, as well as the significant religious and non-religious meanings associated with them.

Thai Lotus Flower Bud

Image see link “Lotus Flower” CC-BY-SA

Lotus Flower

While flowers in general are considered to be sacred and pure, the Lotus flower in particular, is the most honored and cherished flower in all of Thailand. It is symbolic of how man, the earth and all other surroundings are connected, as well as the enlightenment of man experienced through Buddha.  In fact, the Lotus itself is symbolic of the peaceful god and pictures of Buddha most often center on the flower.  They also represent true beauty, knowledge, and are commonly found in weddings or other religious ceremonies. Their incredible color variation provides for an appropriate choice regardless of the occasion.

Erythrina

Another flower that has sacred meaning to Buddhist culture in Thailand is the Erythrina Species, which is a flower grown from a member of the Indian coral tree family. Certain species bloom a striking bright red flower and is used for its numerous medicinal qualities. Historically used for decoration, these striking flowers have a unique, three stemmed leaf that represents holy trinities of Hindu culture as well. 

thai-flowers-Ficus-racemosa-fructescence

Image: CC-BY-3.0 Wikimedia Author:Ethel Aardvark

The rare gem of Thailand, the Udumbara flower, is very rare and difficult to find.  The legend of Buddhists says the flowers of the Udumbara are so rare, that they only bloom once every 3,000 years or so. Making such a rare appearance is the reason this flower is symbolic of rare and unusual events. The tiny white leaves resemble clusters of insect eggs and there is a legend that tells of the reason for the hidden fruit. In actual fact, as in most figs, they flowers do exists and are enclosed inside of the fruit.

Flowers have a deep spiritual and earthly purpose for those who are followers of Buddha. In addition to the sacred meaning mentioned above, flowers in general are also used in remembrance of loved ones who have passed and they are also used as a token of gratitude. They symbolize appreciation for the great teacher, Buddha. From respect, gratitude, honor, and expressions of feelings, flowers are symbolic of many different cultural traditions and knowing the meaning behind each flower can help you choose an appropriate one for any occasion.