By ALICE ALECH
Thousands of people, most of them strangers, met for the first time in San Francisco Civic Centre in an attempt to break a world record. They succeeded, creating the largest human flower in July 2017. This wasn’t just any flower; it was the exquisite lotus flower, considered as one of most sacred symbols of beauty and purity. The event called Lotus Live was organized by the Asian Art Museum to coincide with the Flower Power Exhibition to honor the 50th anniversary of the summer of love.
Why did the Asian Art Museum and the City of San Francisco choose the lotus for this fun event?
Fifty years ago, Summer of Love and Flower Power attracted young artists, musicians, and other social rebels who flocked to San Francisco to create a community based on peace and love. They wore flowers in their hair inspired by the words of the song by Scot McKenzie
If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
you’re gonna meet some gentle people there
The lotus flower has been revered for centuries by certain cultures, especially Hindus and Buddhists. Look at the delicate lotus in its environment: it has its roots in the mud, the flower grows upwards through water in search of light, emerging as a truly remarkable flower.
For Hindus, the lotus is, the holiest of all flowers is associated with beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity. Numerous Hindu Gods and Goddesses sit on lotus thrones.
The lotus represents a being – a wise and spiritually enlightened person who does not look for rewards and remains unattached. The Bhagavad Gita chapter 5 verse 10 states
“One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.
For Buddhists, the muddy water environment is significant – the flower rises and blooms above the murky waters to achieve enlightenment. As humans, we are born in a world of suffering vital for our existence. This is what makes us stronger. This is also how we learn to resist temptation. In the Buddhist religion, the different stages of growth represent the various stages of enlightenment; the fully bloomed lotus flower represents full enlightenment and self-awareness.
For holistic therapist Louse Semple the lotus flower represents growth. She explained “Because the lotus flower generally grows in mud/dirt I often use the saying no mud no lotus. As in if you don’t work through the sludge then the beauty will remain hidden. It represents your fullest self.”
Jay Xu, the Asian Art Museum Director said the organizers chose the lotus because “the lotus rises over muddy waters without being contaminated.”
He added “the lotus is a symbol of peace, unity, inclusivity, and purity. That’s exactly what Lotus Live achieved today.”
Sixty-eight-year-old Timothy Green wasn’t going to miss the chance of being part of the Guinness Book of Records. He traveled all the way from Midway Texas for the event describing the mood as festive, rock concert atmosphere.
Green was not disappointed. The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for largest human flower now belongs to the Asian Art Museum.
All the participants, 2,405 people received a FREE ticket to Flower Power, a commemorative souvenir event poster and an aerial photo of the title-earning super bloom.
Green was impressed with the smooth running of the event, the organizing of such a large number of participants wearing translucent green and pink ponchos standing side by side.
‘The most impressive thing that I noticed was the diligence of the verification of the size of the crowd by the organizers and the Guinness record representatives.’
The organizers reported that Over 200 teen volunteers from the Community Youth Center of San Francisco helped to form the lotus perimeter and guide participants into their record-breaking formation.
Granted the nostalgic flower power of 1967 cannot be recreated but the City of San Francisco’s human lotus flower certainly set the mood for celebration and cultural empathy. Choosing the sacred lotus was a wise choice.
My thanks to the Asian Art Museum for information and photos for this article
Asian Art Museum Sets Guinness World Record for Largest Human Flower | NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Asian-Art-Museum-Guinness-World-Record-Largest-Human-Flower-434728403.html#ixzz4n4flVJW8