April 7, 2021, 4:27 p.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 547 views)
Fully grounded in the earth, aspiring toward the divine, blooming from within toward the light.
The water lily is the flower of the underworld-the place of creation!
All through my childhood, I have stumbled upon the water lily in fairytales where they are often the home to sprites or possess potions of enchanted nectars.
The wicked witch & her pretty maidens along with the "white fairy" who hid amongst the water lilies enthralled me as a child.
A water lily is born underneath the water, inside the soil at the bottom of a lake or pool.
They add the perfect finishing touch to the modern garden.
The famous impressionist artist, Claude Monet was enthralled by the captivating beauty of the water lily.
Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge
The spectacular imagery of water lilies in several Claude Monet paintings had always fascinated me.
Monet fell in love with the Lillies grown in Latour-Marliac, which is one of the unique plant nurseries and gardens in Southern France. He ordered a few plants and the rest is history.
One instant, one aspect of nature contains it all,” said Claude Monet, referring to his "water lily" paintings.
Water Lilies is not a name of a single painting, but a name of a series of works. During his lifetime, Claude Monet painted more than 250 water lilies paintings.
Monet planted the water lilies before he painted them. Monet designed his property at Giverny as though it were a huge painting. He diverted a river, planted water lilies, weeping willows & bamboo trees. Nature, recomposed by the artist, began to resemble his art. "My finest masterpiece," he later said, "is my garden".
The Nymphéas cycle occupied Claude / Monet for three decades, from the late 1890s until his death in 1926, at the age of 86.
Many of the paintings of water lilies were painted whilst Monet suffered cataracts.
The brilliant fiery reds and yellows of Water Lilies - Japanese Bridge, 1923 are indicative of the impaired sight of the artist, seeing his bridge within a reduced palette. Yet it is the most evocative and startling sum of color, light and composition.
The scientific name of this flower is “Nymphaea”. It comes from the Greek word “nymph”, and according to Greek mythology, it means a feminine spirit inhabiting water bodies like wells, pools and spring.
The symbolism of the lily can be traced back to ancient times and plays a significant role in various cultures across the globe. From beauty to enlightenment, they represent emotions and ideas based on different cultures and in various countries.
The lily (symbol of Upper Egypt) was teamed with the papyrus flower, which was symbolic of Lower Egypt. It was used to denote a united country. Ancient Egyptians also had high regard for the blue water lily, which they regarded as a representation of the Sun and a symbol of rebirth.
According to Buddhism, enlightenment is associated with this blossom. Different colored water lilies have different representations according to the ancient Buddhists, and the practice is still carried out.
For instance, a red lily connotes love and passion and is considered to be the lotus of the heart.
The iconography of the purple lily is mystic power, while the white lily symbolizes purity. The highest deity is represented with a pink lily, and blue lilies are associated with knowledge.
The Hindus associate the water lily with resurrection.
This is because at night symbolizing darkness, the lilies close their blossoms and open their rays with the first ray of the sun. It is also a symbol of purity because even though the plant grows in mud, the flower is pure and free from blemishes.
In Western cultures, eloquence or gracefulness and estranged love are symbolically represented by water lilies while the Chinese associate it with weddings.
A few years ago, there used to be myriad small and large ponds filled with red, blue & white water lilies on both sides of the highway connecting Cuttack and Bhubaneswar in the state of Odisha/India.
The water bodies were set against the lush green backdrop of paddy fields and the drive used to be pleasing to the eye.
One lazy summer day, I decided to stop by a pond and collect some lily rhizomes & plant them in the lily pool in my garden.
That was the easy part but growing them in the garden pool proved to be a difficult story.
As soon as the lily leaves grew, the tilapia fish would gobble them voraciously.
I kept waiting patiently for the lily to thrive, instead, the tilapia were growing fatter & fatter. My dad had a solution. Tilapia fish fry for lunch, to help the lilies grow in the pool but I refused.
After all, the tilapia fish were the first residents of the pool & the lilies came much later.
A couple of years passed by and I was resigned to the water lilies ever flowering in my garden.
In today’s world, it’s not easy to be patient. We don’t like to wait.
Thanks to the internet we’ve created a world where we can learn languages in a jiffy and grasp intricate practices over weekend workshops and feel we have become experts in a chosen field overnight.
Every time my patience grew thin, I would remind myself that I had done my best & sown the lily rhizomes in good soil with consistent love and discipline.
So I kept my fingers crossed, praying faithfully, reminding myself that something, while not noticeable on the surface, is brewing. And in due time, I will reap my harvest.
As humans, many times, we find ourselves rushing through life looking forward to the next “exciting” event.
We often forget to slow down and enjoy the ride.
One fine morning, I woke up to see a miracle. Overnight a single lily had bloomed.
My joy knew no bounds & I rushed to capture the moment & show it to my mother.
Over the years, Dad had passed away & Ma was on a walker but when I showed her the photo on my cell phone, she remembered my dad & how disdainful he was of my "lily adventure" and we both smiled. The next day I laughed seeing two blooms & then there were many pink lilies flowering.
The water lilies in my garden pool showed me how beautiful and amazing life is when we patiently wait through each stage. Nature allows us to discover ourselves.
My lesson learned: keep looking ahead, planning and designing, but remember that certain things just can't be rushed.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience".