June 2, 2017

3075 VIETNAM (Mekong Delta) - Đồng Tháp girls with lotus flowers

 
 

Vietnam has a strong affinity with the water. Actually, Vietnamese civilization sprung out of the Red River delta and Mekong delta where wet-rice cultivation along with fishing and rice planting was the mainstay of living. Is therefore naturally that the country's national flower is an aquatic one, namely the lotus (Nelumbo lucifera), especially that it is hard to travel through Vietnam during lotus season without coming across a pond or lake filled with them. Pink lotus is considered the supreme of all lotuses.

To the Vietnamese, lotus is an exquisite flower, which symbolizes the purity, serenity, commitment and optimism of the future as it is the flower which grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. At night, the flower closes and sinks under water. It rises and opens again at dawn. How it blossoms and recedes at certain times of the day makes the flower remain untouched by impurity. Thus, the lotus symbolizes the purity of heart and mind.

Đồng Tháp is a province in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam, nicknamed The City of Lotus. Early in the morning, elderly ladies push off in their boats to cut the flowers ready for selling later that day. Later in the day, young lovers and groups of girls dressed up along to the ponds for both professional and amateur photo shoots. Enterprising pond owners have put up bridges jutting out into the ponds and charge for the privilege of taking photos on the bridge or out on small boats among the flowers.

As well as being beautiful to look at, and having a wonderful fragrance, lotus flowers have also other uses: the young stems are used in salads, the stamens can be dried and made into a herbal tea (called trà sen, chè sen, or chè ướp sen), the bitter tasting germs of the seeds are made into a tisane (trà tim sen), and the seeds are eaten raw, dried or boiled. The sweet soup (chè hạt sen) is particularly tasty, but also gỏi ngó sen (lotus stem salad, with shrimp and pork or chicken).

It has to be said that many Europeans confuse the lotus with the water lily, although the differences between them are important. The most obvious is that the lotus grows up to 1.5-2 meters above the water, while the water lily floats and its flowers grow no more than 20 centimeters above the water. In terms of the flower, the petals of the lotus are thin, matte and arranged in the shape of a cup, and the ones of the water lily are narrow, waxed and arranged in the form of a star.

About the stamps
The second stamp is one of the two designed by Nguyễn Du, Kim Liên & Pisit Prasitthanadoon and issued on August 5, 2016 to mark The 40th Anniversary od Diplomatic Relations with Thailand - Joint Issue with Thailand.

References
National flower of Vietnam - Lotus, a symbol of divine beauty - Sinh Cafe Travel

Sender 1478: Matthew Lai KH
Sent from Ho Chi Minh City (Southeast / Vietnam), on 16.05.2017
Photo: Nguyen Manh Sinh

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