I had an incredible time taking this photo at the market in Mumbai. I got up early and went to the market at 3am to see all the vendors making beautiful flower garlands before dawn. It's amazing for a Westerner (as we are called in the East) to see bunches of lotus flowers in baskets since they are so rare in the United States. We only see ponds with maybe one or two blue water lilies, never more than that usually and never pink flowers. It was so moving for me. Pink lotus is beloved in India as it is the national flower. During special holidays, the price increases dramatically and they actually have airplanes full of flowers being brought to other cities for people to buy. Here, about 70% of the flowers are used for religious worship, they rest are for decoration and weddings or parties. What does that say about this Country? So many Americans and foreigners flock to India for the spirituality. We come to learn to meditate, study with spiritual masters, practice yoga and yearn for inner peace and/or bliss. In India you can learn what devotion truly is. The love for God, for expressing that love through adorning the temples and deities with flowers is such a beautiful practice. I've been to beautiful Hindu temples in the US, but it is nothing like the temples in India. Many foreigners who visit would agree.
On my way to visit the Ashram of my spiritual teacher, Amma, I had a garland of pink lotus made for her. They made it at dawn before I set out for 4 1/2 hour drive, carefully putting it in a cooler for me. You could feel the intense respect, care and love they put into my request. The customs in India are so beautiful. Bowing as you enter a temple, touching the feet of the elders every time you walk in the house and taking off your shoes, show respect and humility. These are qualities we could definitely benefit from cultivating in the West. The beauty of traveling and seeing other cultures is enjoying the beauty of their practices and beneficial values. I hope you enjoy this photo and would love to have you join me on my next trip!
Below is a photo from the market with baskets of Tulsi leaves, which are also used in garlands.