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Lucknow scientists launch heritage lotus with 108-petals

The 108-petal lotus called 'Namoh 108' was launched during a function at the National Botanical Research Institute of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research

The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research-National Botanical Research Institute in Lucknow has launched an improved variety of lotus — India’s national flower. Named as Namoh 108 this variety has 108 petals and was dedicated to the nation before the 77th Independence Day to the nation by N. Kalaiselvi, the Director-General of CSIR.

The event was held during NBRI’s festival “One Week One Lab Programme” which started last week.

Talking about the new variety, the DG said: “This is a happy coincidence that ‘Namoh 108’ is dedicated to the nation a day before Independence Day. Considering the religious importance of lotus and the number ‘108’, this combination gives an important identity to this variety.”

Sharing more details, she added: “This lotus was brought by NBRI scientists from Manipur to conduct research on it. This is the first Lotus variety whose genome is completely sequenced. This plant will never be extinct or endangered like many of our flowers and plants have become.”

The head researcher of this particular variety K.J. Singh informed that it was unlike other lotus varieties as it is more weather resilient and can flower from March to December. This makes it the longest flowering variety as compared to other varieties which flowers for 4 to 5 months only.

Importance of 108

The number 108 has a special significance in the Indic or Dharmic religions, namely, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Mantras are recited 108 times, mala with 108 beads is used, Surya Namaskar in yoga is done 108 times for physical and spiritual benefit, and many of the Hindu gods and goddess have 108 names.

Interestingly, the distance between the earth and sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun and this star is 108 times       the diameter of our planet.

According to ancient Vedic sages who were mathematicians 108 is a Harshad number, an integer which is divisible by the sum of its digits, which comes to 9. The word Harshad means joy giver and it represents the whole existence in the universe.

Likewise in Vedic astrology, there are nine planets and there are 12 Zodiac signs and 108 is the result of multiplying the two figures. Also, there are 27 constellations or nakshatras and each of them can occupy a particular direction in north, south east and west and 27×4 is equal to 108.

In Buddhism, there are 108 feelings which are arrived by multiplying six senses by three attributes namely, painful, pleasant and neutral which is again multiplied by 2 representing their generation, external or internal and finally by 3 which is past, present and future.

Likewise in Jainism, the total number of ways of Karma influx are 108.

At the NBRI event apparels made from lotus fibre and a perfume developed from its plant were also released.

A.K. Shasany, the Institute Director said the fibre extracted from the lotus stem was used to make a Manipuri style coat by Barabanki district weavers. The perfume Frotus developed by the NBRI in collaboration with Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre in Kannauj was also launched.

Apart from Namoh 108, a new variety of aloe vera called NBRI-Nihar was launched. This has 2.5 times more gel yield and is least affected by bacterial and fungal diseases.