lotus leaf in agnicayana

Thomas Kintaert thomaskintaert at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 23 15:34:24 UTC 2009

Dear list members,

Relating to research on the cultural history of the Indian lotus I am trying
to obtain information regarding the following matter:

On the 4th day of the agnicayana ritual a lotus leaf (puṣkaraparṇa) is
placed on the foundation of the uttaravedi. During the last 50 years the
performance of at least the following agnicayana-s has been documented in

- 1975 in Panjal
- 1990 in Kundoor/Kundur
- 2006 in Kizhakkanchery

I would like to know whether, in these modern performances, a leaf of the
Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera, subsp. nucifera) has been used, or a leaf of
a Nymphaea (water lily) species. Since the famous 1975 agnicayana produced
almost 20 hours of colour film and more than 4,000 photographs, and the
agnicayana of 2006 even around 200 hours of video and 12,000 photographs, it
should be possible to find an answer. Unless I overlooked it, the lotus leaf
does not feature in Staal's video "Altar of Fire". Does anyone know how I
might obtain photographs and video footage of the collecting and use of the
lotus leaf in these agnicayana performances? I have already tried to contact
Mr. Sarath Haridasan, Director of the Documentation Project of the 2006
agnicayana, earlier this year, but without success. The website of that
project (www.projectaksharam.org) has meanwhile been taken off the web. I
will also send an e-mail to Prof. Staal directly.

Any information in this regard will be greatly appreciated.

Thomas Kintaert

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