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Significance Of Flowers In Indian Culture And Pooja Rituals: What Makes Them So Important

Flowers have always been a significant part of Indian culture and hold mythological significance. They bring with them a whiff of purity a fresh breath of selflessness and symbolize diversification. They represent strength, liveliness, generosity and especially righteousness and become the landmark of an individual's life from birth to death.

While the Rose flower has been the rejuvenating elixir for those weary and stressed-out souls, the Lotus which is the National Flower of India symbolizes peace.

The term 'Puja' is derived from two words- 'Pushpa', which means 'flower' and Japa 'which means 'reciting the name of God.' This is how we know the immense significance of flowers in Indian culture and pooja rituals.

While in Hinduism, Lotus has been associated with Goddess Saraswati, as per Buddhists, the Lotus stands for purity on all three levels as it floats above the muddy waters without a hint of water dropping on it. This is an indicator of detachment, a characteristic, which Lotus amply possesses.

There are other flowers, next in importance to Lotus such as Star Jasmine (Kunda), and the divinely fragrant Plumeria (Deva Kanigile) which are admired immensely by the devout populace.

Flowers may wilt sometime after removing them from their stalk. They express everlasting human emotions and views. It represents a variety of positive emotions that one likes to express to our loved ones during their important moments.

Even in the Indian subcontinent, the people would use them for prayer, rituals, food, and ceremonies. This is supported by the texts in ancient Indian scriptures known as the Vedas, which describe and mention the various uses of plants and flowers.

Often the type of flower, the colour of the petals and the occasion determine the message trying to be conveyed. The diverse cultures in India are inextricably associated with the floral tradition.. If it is morning, it is used for puja and if it is evening, you can spot it at weddings, parties and other places. Then they are also used in the preparation of herbal medicines. Let us know why flowers are so important in Indian culture. Read on!

What Are Flowers Used For?

Flowers are used in all auspicious events in India, especially at daily prayer sessions in temples and Indian households. Flowers aree offered to the deities in the morning and also during evening prayers, along with other puja ingredients. Also, in occasions like weddings, housewarming ceremonies, a child's first rice-eating ceremony, birthdays and even in shraddh rituals or funerals; one can find the presence of flowers. Flowers are also presented to guests as our motto of hospitality points at "'Atithi Devo Bhava' or, "the guest is equivalent to God." However, the type of flowers used varies from culture to culture such as rose, marigold, orchids, jasmine and lilies as well.

While in weddings the venue, bride's and groom's attires, cards are decorated with flowers, in housewarming ceremonies too, it is added in the havan and pooja rituals and to bring joy and beautify to the new place for house owners. Also, in child's first rice eating ceremonies, elders are seen blessing them with flowers and durva along with numerous auspicious ingredients. Apart from that, in funerals too, white flowers are extensively used as they symbolise purity and to show sincere respect. Also, red, yellow and orange flowers are used.

Significance Of Flowers In Puja Rituals

It is not only human beings; people in India believe that Gods too love flowers and they has a symbolism attached to them. Each God has his or her own favourite flower which he expects you to use for his puja. Gods are easily placated with the Pushpaabhisheka, and grant your wishes immediately. Datura, hibiscus, lotus, parijata or night jasmine, marigold, are a few flowers that are dedicated to the worship of different gods or goddesses. Also, they are used while performing havans and during prayers. Festivals in India are almost incomplete without their use.

Flowers are used early mornings for 'puja' or for worshipping the Tulsi plant at dawn. They are also used to create Rangolis, pandal decorations, and garlands. Flowers arranged in ornate flower vases, flower baskets, or hanging baskets are essential ingredients for home decoration. Many of us grow flower plants at home to live amidst fragrant and artistic surroundings with the touch of nature.

1. Carnation Flowers

In India, previously marguerite carnation types were being grown as winter crops. In the meanwhile, as the Sim Carnation got introduced, it is being cultivated in many cities including Nasik, Pune, Bengaluru, Ludhiana, Solan and Shimla etc. It tops the list of wedding essentials as today's generation prefers carnation decorations for modern Indian weddings and formal events.

2. Parijat Flowers

Parijat or Harsingar, is virtually considered as the ornament of Gods. It is the only flower that is sanctioned to be offered to Gods during worship after picking it up from the ground. Parijat helps one remember past lives and incarnations. It is also referred to as Kalpa Vriksh or Kalpa Taru- or wish-granting tree by some people. Parijat was one of the byproducts that emerged during the great oceanic churn or samudra manthan that happened between the Devas and the Asuras.

3. Hibiscus Flowers

Hibiscus flowers stand for health, beauty, power, immortality and respect. It is known to possess magical properties of absorbing pranic energy. Red Hibiscus, with its clear resemblance to Goddess Kali's tongue, is offered to her in worship. It is also the favourite flower of Lord Ganesha, and planet Mangal due to its reddish tinge.

4. Jasmine Flowers

Jasmine flowers and Jasmine flower strings are used for making Gajra, the string used by Indian women to embellish their hair. The Jasmine flower symbolizes luck, love, romance, appreciation, purity, and good luck, which is why it is widely on auspicious occasions. Jasmine flower is offered to Lord Hanuman, Lord Vishnu, Lord Venkateshwara, Lord Narayana, and Goddess Meenakshi.

4. Lotus Flowers (Pink)

A fully bloomed Lotus signifies the idea of enlightenment. Lotus symbols can be seen etched in Yantras, and used for Puja. The lotus is supposed to have stemmed from the navel of Vishnu, the Preserver. From the centre of this lotus, Brahma the Creator is believed to be born. Various Gods are seen seated on Lotus. Pink Lotus is offered to Goddess Laxmi, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Sri Ranganatha, and Lord Brahma to please them and get their blessings.

5. Rose Flowers

Rose flowers are available in 24 different colour shades. Rose flowers symbolize love and happiness which is why they are used in wedding ceremonies. Roses are offered to almost all Gods and Goddesses, especially to Goddess Laxmi, Lord Venkateshwara, Lord Muruga, Lord Ganesha, and Goddess Meenakshi.

6. Marigold Flowers

Marigolds are used extensively in Hindu festivals and rituals. They have an appealing aura and fragrance about themselves. They are used for worshipping Lord Ganesha, Jupiter (Brihaspati), Goddess Kali, Lord Shiva, and other Gods. They symbolise positivity and creativity; especially their orange shade reflects the energy of the Sun. The orange shade of Marigold symbolizes the sun's energy. They can be offered as petals or as full-blown flowers for the purposes of worship. Marigold is used at almost any occasion, be it the daily morning puja or late evening meditation sessions.

7. Aak And Dhatura Flowers

Aak flowers (Calotropis gigantea) and Dhatura flowers (Datura stramonium) are used for MahaShiva Ratri, a Hindu festival to honour Lord Shiva, one of the three deities in the Hindu Trinity.

Bright and attractive flowers are not offered to appease Lord Shiva because he lives like a hermit. Lord Shiva is also associated with hallucinogenic substances. Therefore, Dhatura is offered to him as it has hallucinogenic chemicals and also because it grew from his chest after he consumed the halahala, the poison that came by as a product of the Samudra manthan.

Aak flowers, just like Shiva, should be treated properly otherwise they could turn toxic. If used in the right way, they can cure many ailments. . Aak flowers are offered as buds to Lord Shiva.

Medicinal Properties Of Flowers

Flowers also find other uses as great gifts, medicine, perfume and food products. Flowers have a mood-altering effect and fill you with a feeling of satisfaction. Flowers are extracted to create perfumes. These perfumes have a positive effect on your moods and bring on cheer. Sick people are given bouquets as they feel the positive vibes that flowers emit and recover soon.

Floral blossoms come with the natural blessings of healing and toxic elimination, and hence they are used for the preparation of medicines. You can buy these blossoms on line as well. Flower arrangement elaborately done during festivals release therapeutic elements into the atmosphere and create a healthy ambience. For example, the purple bauhinia (Bauhinia purpurea) treats cough, inflammation, piles and wounds effectively whereas Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) is used to treat eye diseases, poisoning, skin diseases, etc. The fragrance of the jasmine flower makes it a popular cosmetic product for bathing soaps, perfumes, etc.

Flowers Have Culinary Uses

In India, Banana blossoms are used in plenty of ways to create hot and spicy dishes and they are popular dinner items in Kerala and Malabar and even in West Bengal. They are rich in fibre and iron and are used often in their meals. The spices add a healthy twist to the banana blossoms dish to bring out the natural homely flavour. Also, Papaya flowers, Moringa flowers are used in several food items. Apart from that, rose and jasmine is used to flavour drinks. The list is endless and so are the possibilities.

Disclaimer: The information is based on assumptions and information available on the internet and the accuracy or reliability is not guaranteed. Boldsky does not confirm any inputs or information related to the article and our only purpose is to deliver information. Kindly consult the concerned expert before practising or implementing any information and assumption.

Image sources: Wikimedia Commons

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