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It’s India’s Independence Day and what better way to celebrate than with a tribute to the ancient lotus, which is the country’s national flower.

Why the lotus, people have asked me? Isn’t India more closely associated with marigold and jasmine? Actually, our country’s association with this blush-hued bloom runs far and deep. A beautiful lotus can bloom anywhere , right from clear lakes to muddy marshes. Besides this, it blooms with the morning light and closes its petals when the sun goes down. This has led to it being seen as a symbol of purity and resurrection – a spiritual flower grafted by the Gods themselves.

The lotus is also a symbol of triumph, since it is rooted in the mud and can survive to regerminate for thousands of years

A Raja Ravi Varma painting of Goddess Lakshmi holding and standing on a lotus

It finds reference in several holy books and Lord Brahma (the creator of the universe), Lord Vishnu the preserver) and Goddess Lakshmi (patron of wealth and prosperity) are depicted sitting on a lotus. In the classical written and oral literature of many Asian cultures the lotus also represents elegance, beauty, perfection, purity and grace, being often used in poems and songs as an allegory for ideal feminine attributes.

However, India’s connection with the lotus flower is not all spritual. The enchanting bloom also has several therapeutic qualities – it speeds up the healing of wounds, improves the immune system, prevents premature ageing, steps up the absorption of iron, reduces fatigue and irritability, helps with nerve and muscle function, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels, supports weight loss and guards against free radical damage.

Throughout history, Eastern poets, sages, saints, masters and gurus have used the lotus as a metaphor for the divine feet of gods – this is where the phrase “lotus feet” originates

Besides all this, the beautiful and delicate scent of a lotus flowers is also used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and deep breathing, creating an atmosphere of tranquility and peace. It is available as an attar, absolute or essential oil. However, costs are spiralling upwards, with the absolute clocking in at upwards of US$6,000 per kilogram.

The delicate floral and slightly peppery scent of the lotus flowers is not only used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and tranquility but has also become the key note for several leading fragrances across the world

However, that has not deterred several leading beauty companies from adding this delicate floral and slightly peppery note to their fragrances. The most popular of these is probably Estée Lauder’s Beautiful, which is the perfect wedding fragrance when you want to evoke an Indian sensuality without going the heavy oriental route (I wore it at my own wedding). Besides lotus, which appears as a top note, the perfume is also redolent with jasmine, marigolds, roses, sandalwood and vetiver – all of which have an important role in Indian culture and divinity.

My second favourite is the Un Jardin Sur le Nil by Hermes, which manages to smell both fresh and sensual at the same time – like a sunny, indolent summer afternoon.

Then there is MAC’s Turquatic – a new launch that’s crisp and energizing, like a splash of clear, sparkling mineral water brought to a chill through an infusion of fresh lotus leaves.

Want more? Work you way through this list of some of the most famous perfumes that showcase lotus within their accords:

  • Arden Beauty by Elizabeth Arden
  • Bright Crystal by Versace
  • Green Tea Lotus by Elizabeth Arden
  • Anais Anais by Cacharel
  • Allure by Chanel
  • Cheap & Chic Hippy Fizz by Moschino
  • Cheap & Chic Light Clouds by Moschino
  • Cool Water Woman by Davidoff
  • Delir de Roses by Caron
  • Eden by Cacharel
  • L’Eau D’Issey by Issey Miyake
  • Omnia Crystalline by Bulgari
  • Romance by Ralph Lauren
  • Royal Ceylan by Creed
  • So de la Renta by Oscar de la Renta
  • Zen by Shiseido

The lotus also represents elegance, beauty, perfection, purity and grace, being often used in poems and songs as an allegory for ideal feminine attributes