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Flowers

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Flowers (puppha or kusuma) are the reproductive structures of flowering plants and usually have brightly coloured petals and a sweet smell. A part of the ancient Indian betrothal ceremony consisted of bedecking the bride with garlands (M.I,286) and the making of garlands was a recognized craft (Ja.V,292). The Vinaya mentions several types of garlands, wreaths and bouquets, although the difference between these is not clear (Vin.III,179). The Buddha seems to have been a great lover of flowers judging by how often he used them as similes in his teachings. For example he said: ‘Like a beautiful flower full of colour but without perfume is the good advice dispensed by one who does not act according to it.’ (Dhp.51) and again: ‘Just as one can make many garlands from a heap of flowers, so much good can be done by one born human.’ (Dhp.53). He sometimes compared flowers with the things that we are attached to but which are nonetheless impermanent. When the informed Buddhist places flowers before the Buddha statue, he or she silently reflects on the truth of impermanence and resolves to try to see their worldly possessions in their proper perspective. See Lotus and Pūjā.

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