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Lotus

The Flower
Lotus is grown in a large area spreading form Vietnam to Afghanistan. It is rare or extinct in the wild Africa but widely naturalized in southern Asia and Australia, where it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. Lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam and is known by a number of common names, such as Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India and sacred water-lily. Botanically, Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) may also be referred to by its former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Wild) or Nymphaea nelumbo. It is an aquatic perennial plant and its seeds are preserved under favorable circumstances to make it viable for many years.

 

Culinary Features
The flowers, seeds, leafs and roots of Lotus are edible in the Asian cooking. The leaves are used as a flavoring agent and to wrap sweet and savory mixtures (rice, meat, fruit, etc.) for steaming. Lotus root is used as a vegetable as well as in sweet dishes, and regarded a very healthy food by Chines. it has a reddish-brown skin that must be peeled before using. Its creamy-white flesh has the crisp texture of a raw potato and a flavor akin to fresh coconut, is available fresh, canned, dried and candied. Petals and leaves can all be cooked and eaten raw, but there is a risk of parasite transmission (e.g. Fasciolopsis buski) if eaten row: it is therefore recommended that they are cooked before eating. The lotus seeds or nuts are quite versatile and can be eaten raw or dried

and popped like popcorn. They can also be boiled down until soft and made into a paste or boiled with dried longans and rock sugar to made a tong sui (sweet soup).

 

Nutrition Value
Lotus roots were found to be rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper and manganese while very low in saturated fat.

Cultivation
The roots of nucifera are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on top of the water surface. The flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the water. The plant normally grows up to a height of about 150 cm and a horizontal spread of up to 3 meters, but some unverified reports place the height as high as over 5 meters. The leaves may be as large as 60 cm in diameter, while the showy flowers can be up to 20 cm in diameter. There are a number of different colors of lotus, varying from snow white to yellow to a light pink.

 

Religious Association
From ancient times the lotus has been a divine symbol in Hindu tradition. It is often used as an example of divine beauty, Hindus associate the lotus blossom with creation mythology and with the gods Vishnu, Brahma and the goddesses Lakshmi and Sarasvati. Vishnu is often described as the 'Lotus-Eyed One'. Brahma and Lakshmi, the divinities of potency and wealth, have the lotus symbol associated with them. In Hindu iconography, deities often are depicted with lotus flowers as their seats. The flower is quoted extensively within Puranic and Vedic literature.

Buddhist symbolize the lotus for purity of body, speech, and mind, as if floating above the muddy

waters of attachment and desire. The Buddha is often depicted sitting on a giant lotus leaf or blossom. According to legend, he was born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.

In Ancient Egypt, Lotus was introduced only at the time of the Persian invasions, late in ancient Egyptian history. The ancient Egyptians venerated the blue water-lily, Nymphaea caerulea, which was sometimes known as the 'blue lotus' or 'sacred lotus'.

 
 
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