Makhana Use in Hindu Pooja

Significance of Lotus in Hindu mythology

The significance of India’s national flower ‘Lotus’ is deeply rooted in ancient era, and a very important part of the Indian mythology. This sacred flower occupies a unique position and is revered for its importance. Lotus flower or ‘kamal ka phool’ as it is called in Hindi, symbolizes eternity, plenty and good fortune and Goddess Lakshmi, the revered Hindu goddess of wealth. Goddess Lakshmi is always depicted with a lotus flower. This flower is also a symbol of purity and enlightenment amid ignorance (the smutty swamps in which it grows).  A very interesting fact about Lotus flower is that in spite of being in water, it never gets wet.

Lotus is also revered by the Hindus as the flower is associated with Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, both portrayed on a pink lotus in iconography. Historically, quite a few Indian deities are always depicted with sitting on a stylized Lotus throne.

Lord Vishnu, also known as ‘Padmanabha’ (Lotus navel), it is said it was with the lotus that the entire universe was made and this sacred flower came out from the navel of Lord Vishnu. 

Lord Vishnu is also often described as ‘Pundarikaksha’ or the”Lotus-Eyed One”. The Lotus’s unfolding petals personify the expansion of the human soul. The growth of the pure flower from the mud symbolises the ability of a human soul to remain good, pure and bloom despite the hardships around. In Hindu iconography other deities, including Ganga and Ganesha are often depicted with lotus flowers as their seats.

The lotus plant is widely cited in various ancient puranic and Vedic literature in Hindu mythology.

Lotus Symbolism in Hindu Mythology

The Lotus flower symbolizes divine or immortality in humanity, and it is also a symbol of divine perfection. The lotus flower also symbolizes the realization of inner potential and in Tantric and Yogic traditions the lotus symbolizes the potential of an individual to harness the flow of energy moving through the chakras.

Also, in Hinduism, the white Lotus is associated with eternity, spirituality, beauty, fertility and prosperity. Lord Brahma, or the creator of Universe is  also portrayed as emerging from a lotus that protrudes from the navel of his sustainer, Lord Vishnu.

The Lotus seed or makhana also symbolise spiritual knowledge and power. Also known as Kamal gatta. Kamal gatta (Lotus Seeds, they are used in the Hawan Kund ( Holy fire) to please Goddess Maha Lakshmi . Kamal gatta seeds are used in many other religious ceremonies and rituals too.

Role of Lotus in ancient medicinal systems

Phool Makhana or lotus seeds have been used as a food, gathered and eaten from prehistoric times across Asia. It is an important part of both Ayurveda as well as the Traditional Chinese medicine. It is also used as a traditional fasting food which supplies fiber and energy when Hindu rituals forbid eating grains. It also adds unique flavour to dishes. Last but not the least the revered flower also provides numerous medicinal benefits.

Parts of the lotus plant including the leaves have been used in various Ayurvedic medicines for having numerous beneficial properties. Lotus leaves are also considered as a good vasodilator, they assist in lowering the blood pressure considerably.

Various use of Makhana during religious ceremonies

Phool makhana or lotus seeds have been used in different religious ceremonies across different parts of India. These include its specific association with 

 Used during marriage rituals in different parts of the Indian sub continent

 Used while taking ‘Parikramaa’ for maintaining counts during ritualistic circumambulation around a temple or tree

 Used during the ‘Shraaddha Karma’ or last Hindu rites of a human being when he/she leaves for the heavenly abode 

 Used as a devotional offering to deities or distinguished persons in the form of non-flower garlands 

 Used as a ‘Prasaad’ or edible offering to deities 

 Sacred thread ‘Yajnopaveet’ as stiffening item

 Used as a fasting food during Navratri and other festivals

  Used as a ‘Havan Saamagri’ and as an important component of ‘Panchamewa’ during religious ceremonies

 Used in the making of a specialized head gear ceremonially worn by the bridegroom during the Indian wedding

Makhana usage in Panch-Mewa

Panch Meva or Five dry fruits are an important part of any Hindu religious ceremony. Since ancient times these five dry fruits have been an important part of every religious ceremoeny in different parts of India. The word ‘Panch’ means five and ‘Meva’ means dry fruits.
It is said and is a popular belief that these five dry fruits also represent the  ‘Panch Tatva’ or the ‘Five elements’ Akash (Sky or Space), Vayu (Air), Jal (Water), Agni (Fire) and Prithvi (Earth). These five types of dry fruits include  Almond, Raisins, Dry coconut, Makhana or Lotus seeds and dry dates and are popularly used as an offering in pooja thali during the fast or worship. These panch mewa or dry fruits are also an important part of religious fasting as devotees also get a lot of energy during the fasting period.

Phool Makhana

Phool Makhana or Lotus seed is one of the Panch mewa or five dry fruits that is used during religious offerings to God and also a staple during fasting. The health benefits of makhana are superior to any other to dry fruits including almonds and walnuts. Lotus seeds or fox nuts are a complete source of protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. Makhanas are also recommended for the diabetic patients. Those who are weight conscious must eat makhanas because it aids in weight loss.

Makhna use in Panch Amrit

Panchamrit or Charnamrut is a holy concoction used during religious ceremonies in different parts of India.  The word, ‘Panch’ means ‘Five’ and ‘Amrit’ means ‘The Elixir Of Gods’.It is essentially made from five holy ingredients including makhana or lotus seeds. Panchamrit is used as an offering to God and then taken as prasad by all devotes at the end of the religious ceremony.

It is therefore clear that makhana or lotus seeds have been an important part of the Indian Hindu religion and has been used as an important ingredient as part of the various religious ceremonies since ancient times.