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Our program today is dedicated to two much-loved aquatic flowers, the water lily, and the lotus. These beauties are held in high regard both in art and in religion all over the world. Our Beloved Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan) has referred to the lotus in Her lectures and praised the high ideal it represents. “According to some myths, the lotus flower was stolen from the superior realms and brought down to here; our world did not have such a flower in the beginning. Such stories may not be fabricated, for the lotus is very extraordinary. That’s why pictures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas always show them descending to Earth on lotus flowers. It’s because the lotus represents the very pure and clean realm.” Supreme Master Ching Hai has also designed the Celestial Jewelry sets “Pure Lotus” and “Millennium Lotus” after this unique flower. The exquisite golden “Lotus Dress” designed by Master in the S.M. Celestial Clothes fashion line is sublime and out of this world. The water lily is a member of the Nymphaeaceae family, whereas the lotus flower belongs to the Nelumbonaceae family. Despite their different family classifications, it may not be easy to differentiate the flowers as both are flowering pond plants with similar petal colors. Both flowers are a delight to behold and have been around for at least 130 million years. Their parts are edible, nutritious, and believed to have healing properties. The flowers emit a lovely fragrance that attracts pollinators and grow directly from the plant’s horizontal stem or rhizome. The pristine flowers are a stark contrast to the muddy surroundings they have been seen to grow in. Perhaps it is because of this very characteristic that they symbolize purity and spiritual attainment. An easy way to distinguish a lotus flower from a lily flower is that the latter floats on the water’s surface while the former stands above the water. The lotus plant is the national flower of Âu Lạc (Vietnam) and is described in many traditional Vietnamese (Aulacese) folk songs and poems. The lotus is also India’s national flower and a favorite Buddhist symbol, representing virtue, enlightenment, and rebirth. Besides being depicted in paintings and literature, the lotus flower has also been revered through the art of dance. Please enjoy the following performance, “Lotus Dance” by the Linh Nga and Bông Sen theatre dance group, at the 2018 International Artist Day celebration in Âu Lạc (Vietnam).