By Audrey Nguyen
H.E. Ambassador Ngo Thi Hoa from Hanoi reveals the value of the lotus flower to the people of Vietnam on the occasion of their 76th National Day.
September 2nd, 2021 sees the 76th National Independence Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This day in 1945 marked the birth of modern-day Vietnam and celebrations have been held annually ever since to commemorate this occasion and honour the determination and strong will of the people that paved the way for independence. Whenever this time comes around, I am always reminded of our floral emblem, the lotus. This is because the spirit of the Vietnamese people is greatly reflected in this flower that we have chosen to be our national symbol.
Anyone who sets foot in Vietnam can see lotus flowers throughout the land. Between May and August of each year, lotus fields all over the country are immersed in a vibrant pink or white as the blossoms are in full bloom. Situated in the capital city Hanoi is the well-known lotus field of West Lake, which attracts tourists and locals alike during this season. These gorgeous flowers never fail to gather a crowd on the lakeside from as early as sunrise on summer days.
The significance of the lotus flower to Vietnamese people is evident in how it is a staple decor in many homes, festivals, and other events across different regions of the country. For instance, the famous Hue Ao Dai Festival which celebrates our national dress commonly features lotus flowers, whether it be in design patterns or as decorations. In addition, the lotus has long been incorporated into the works of Vietnamese artists. It is an inspiration for many authors, sculptors, painters, musicians, photographers, and designers. It has also become a motif in the design of many temples, pagodas, and other historic buildings. I would not be surprised if every tourist returning from Vietnam carries with them a souvenir with elements of the lotus flower.
In the day-to-day lives of us Vietnamese people however, the lotus flower is more than just a decor; it acts like a companion that supports us in many aspects. Each part of the lotus flower serves a beneficial purpose, aside from making our homes more aesthetically pleasing. In Vietnamese cuisine, the lotus is incorporated into a wide variety of dishes. For example, young lotus stems are used in salads, stamens are made into herbal teas, and lotus seeds are used in all types of desserts, or even simply dried for snacking. In traditional medicine, lotus is a common ingredient perceived to have many health benefits. Additionally, the delicate stem fibers of the lotus can skillfully be weaved into lotus silk, which is a high-quality fabric that Vietnam has become known for. One can easily understand why the lotus flower plays such a major role in Vietnamese culture.
However, this is not the only reason behind our choice of Vietnam’s national flower. The root of the lotus is anchored in the mud of lakes and swamps, but its leaves and flowers always emerge above the water; basking in the sunlight as they reach towards the sky. Although it grows in the mud, the lotus still carries a faintly sweet aroma that is untarnished by the dirt around it. These characteristics of the lotus have convinced the Vietnamese people that this flower embodies elevated beauty, optimism and determination. As a result, it became our floral emblem, a symbol of the strong-willed and resilient spirit of the people of Vietnam; the same spirit that made Vietnamese independence a reality 76 years ago.
Coincidentally, the lotus flower is tied to Lang Sen, or Lotus Village, which is the birthplace of President Ho Chi Minh – our national hero that led this quest for independence. It was his Proclamation of Independence on September 2nd, 1945 that created the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, which the world knows today as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Since then, the Vietnamese people have overcome many trials and tribulations to build and preserve a country that is becoming more and more prosperous with an established presence in the international community. Vietnam is currently a middle-income country with a population of nearly 100 million and a GDP per capita of around 3500 U.S. dollars. The nation successfully fulfilled its role as the ASEAN Chair in 2020 and is serving as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure. Together with other countries, Vietnam is striving to contribute to the ongoing mission of preserving peace and prosperity across the globe.
The anniversary of the 76th Independence Day of Vietnam comes at a difficult time, when a COVID-19 surge brings challenges on an unprecedented scale. At the moment, the entire population of Vietnam are united in the fight against this virus by conducting a vaccination campaign and the “5K Rule” – Khau trang (face masks), Khu khuan (disinfection), Khoang cach (distance), Khong tu tap (no gatherings), Khai bao y te (health declarations) – while simultaneously fostering economic growth in a pandemic. I believe that with determination and discipline, Vietnam will gradually be able to tackle this outbreak and resume its national mission in economic and social development.
About the author:
Thuc Anh “Audrey” Nguyen – Vietnamese student studying BSc International Relations and Organizations at Leiden University.
Her mother’s career in foreign affairs allowed her to experience diplomatic life growing up. The unique international setting of her childhood sparked her interest in global affairs. After moving to The Hague a few years ago for her mother’s assignment, she has stayed behind to begin her own path in International Relations.