India is a land packed with assorted customs and traditions, and flowers shape a huge part of them. From religious observances to marriages, no celebration is complete without flowers. And, each region has a rare connection with a different one.
From the sun-powered sunflowers to the pristine lotuses, which is grown in dark and murky conditions, India is home to a great variety of flora and each region in the country has its own unique bond to share with different flowers.
Flowers are energisers in all Indian festivals, weddings or any other social gathering. While in northern India, marigold is considered auspicious for weddings and festivals, at the southern parts of the country, thumba flowers (Ceylon slitwort) are used to celebrate the rice harvest festival and also for rangolis (decorating the floor with designs made with flowers).
Here are the most used flowers in the country and their religious significance.
Who said jasmine is just used for making perfumes, incense sticks and beverages? Worshipping the gods and goddesses is an integral part of the Indian culture and the offerings remain incomplete without jasmine. Fresh and unused petals are picked with five fingers of the right hand before they are used for prayers, each one representing the five senses of sight, touch, taste, sound and smell.
It is believed that jasmine was one of the favourite flowers of Lord Vishnu and it is also often used as the bridal flower to symbolise love between the married couples. In the southern parts of the country, a hair band made with jasmine petals called the ‘gajra’ is used for adorning the hair of the Indian ladies, as it represents auspiciousness and prosperity.
Marigold is another flower famously used by Hindus as garlands for the Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as for welcoming people into their houses or wedding ceremonies as it is believed to be a symbol of respect. It is also used to decorate houses as in some parts of the nation, the flower represents passion and creativity.
The red hibiscus is believed to bring wealth and keep negative energies at bay. The flower is usually offered to Goddess Kali, the goddess of death and time, as it is the representation of her tongue and the red colour is symbolic to the fierceness within her. Also, the flowers are offered to Lord Ganesha, the lord of obstacles, as it is believed to have the ability to emit divine consciousness.
Betel and Neem
The betel leaf garlands are offered to the Hindu deities after making a food offering as these leaves are known to aid digestion, while the neem leaf garlands are offered to the female goddesses who are associated with healing and protection against negative energies.
The lotus symbolises beauty and purity. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity, sits on a red Lotus and goddess Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, sits on a white lotus. This aquatic flower is deep rooted in the mud but floats on water without becoming muddy, thus the Hindus believe that people should learn from the flower and live their lives without being attached to their surroundings.