Significance of Offerings

If the lotus symbolises spiritual purity,
as it blossoms despite roots in mud (which represents defilements),
does the offering of lotus flowers represent purity at shrines?

But the offering of flowers
traditionally represents impermanence (of our bodies),
as they swiftly wither away despite their beauty.

What about the offering of lamps?
They represent spread of the light of wisdom
which dispels the the darkness of wisdom.

What about the offering of an electrical lotus lamp?
It can represent purity, impermanence and wisdom!
A three-in-one offering!

As long as we understand the significance of offerings,
traditions can be rejuvenated in modern forms.
Even new meaningful meanings are welcome, while we remember the old.


Lotus in buddhism

Originally the lotus was an idiom for water which was the source of life, fertility, many children, abundance, continuity and the right of kings. It played a major role in wishfulfillment and was used  in religious and festive decorations. Buddhism employed the lotus as a simile for purity because of its habit of producing flowers that are untainted by the mud from which they arose. Simultaneously, it was a simile for beauty as attested by the numerous names that alluded to the lotus- lotus faced, lotus eyed, heart of the lotus. It also stood for detachment and enlightenment, the ability to rise above one’s circumstance and freedom from bias.

The lotus is the national flower of India and it symbolizes hope

The lotus made its appearance when the Mahayana school introduced the concept of the eternal Buddha the first Buddha who was shown sitting on a lotus throne was possibly the cosmic Buddha Amitabha.

Buddhism in China introduced a love for nature and the use of vegetal forms, a sense of gentleness and serenity.

From book The Lotus in the Buddhist art of India by Teoh Eng Soon, 2002



This symbolizes Bodhi, the state of total mental purity and spiritual perfection, and the pacification of our nature. It generally has eight petals corresponding to the Noble Eightfold Path of the Good Law. It is the lotus found at the heart of the Garbhadhatu Mandala, being the womb or embryo of the world. It is characteristic of the esoteric sects, and the lotus of the Buddhas.
From here

Symbolism of lotus flower

Lotus flower has been often been described as the most exquisite wishes of the Mother Nature for the mankind. The importance of the lotus flowers is so great for the mankind that many traditional and spiritual meanings have also been attributed to them. The lotus flower meanings hold in themselves the secrets of happiness and cheerfulness.

The lotus flower basically symbolizes the clarity of heart as well as the mind.  In other words the Lotus flower represents strength, good luck, long life as well as honor and respect. Some scholars have even talked of the lotus flower being a universal representation of the spiritual presence in human lives.


Below are some descriptions of the lotus flower in different cultures.

Indian lotus flower

According to the Indian culture the lotus flower denotes prosperity knowledge and learning, fruitfulness and illumination. According to the Hindu mythology, the lotus flower is associated with Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wisdom and generosity. She is often portrayed as sitting on a completely blossomed lotus that gives a sense of purity to her form.

Eastern lotus flower

The Lotus flower is viewed as a representation of spirituality according to the eastern culture. The lotus flower is often viewed as a symbol of aspirations to rise towards the light as the roots of the lotus flower has its roots in the mud but it grows in the upward direction.

Egyptian lotus flower

According to the Egyptian culture the lotus flower symbol was known by the name of ‘Sesan’. As per the mythology of Egypt the lotus flower symbolized the sun as well as formation and revival.

Christian lotus flower

The lotus flower is a representation of piousness and fertility. The lily flower in the Christian culture basically replaces the lotus flower. The lily flower according to the Christian culture is associated with Mary who is known as the queen of heaven.

The lotus flower basically represents holiness, good wishes, purity and positive energy.

Symbolic Meaning of Lotus Flower

In Easter Religions, the lotus flower is a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. Its characteristic are a perfect analogy for the human condition: even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the lotus produces the most beautiful flower.

In Buddhism, every person has the potential to become perfect and enlightened. But the journey of the consciousness from spiritual ignorance to perfection happens through many rebirths and can be very painful and difficult, as the process of reincarnation involves the need to repair past mistakes at every new life and one faces the consequences of every action, thought and words. While human are not conscious of their spiritual greatness, they believe that life is unfair and worthless, but as they evolve through many cycles of death and rebirth, all the darkness is slowly removed.

** the moment in which a being reaches nirvana is symbolized by the time that the lotus flower finally blossoms beautifully over the dirty water, as water in many different beliefs systems represents the material world or the physical realm.**

Another characteristic of the Lotus flower is that it sheds its seeds at the same time it blossoms. It represents avatar where a being after reaching perfection decides to return to the rebirth cycles (samsara) in order to help the rest of humanity evolve instead of merging with nirvana light.

Read more at Suite101: The Symbolic Meaning of the Lotus Flower