The lotus flower symbolizes purity, overcoming adversity, and rebirth. The exact symbolism of this aquatic flower varies between cultures and religions, but all of the lotus flower’s meanings are positive in nature.
Much of the lotus flower’s symbolism relates to the plant’s ability to produce gorgeous flowers even while growing in swampy, dirty, and often unpleasant waters. As the delicate petals emerge, they remind us that beauty is possible even in the darkest of places.
About the Lotus Flower
The lotus plant is an aquatic plant that is native to regions throughout East Asia and the South Pacific. The plant grows in slow-flowing water including ponds, floodplains, and river deltas in countries including India, China, and Russia.
The plants sink their roots in water-covered soil and then send up stems that give way to large circular leaves that float on top of the water’s surface. Although these leaves look like lily pads, lotus plants are different from true water lilies.
The plants also send forth flower stalks that rise above the water’s surface. One round flower bud appears atop each stalk and eventually blooms into a stunning flower with many petals.
What Does the Lotus Flower Symbolize?
As we mentioned above, the lotus flower is a symbol of purity, the ability to overcome adversity and challenges, and rebirth.
Just take one look at the lotus flower’s elegant and chic petals, and it’s easy to see why these flowers are linked to purity. However, when you get a better understanding of where these flowers grow, this symbolism really starts to make sense.
Lotus plants are aquatic plants that often grow in muddy, murky, and otherwise unpleasant standing water. You might see the plants’ round, floating leaves covering the surface of brown ponds or stagnant floodplains. When you look at the conditions these plants often grow in, it’s hard to imagine they can be symbols of purity. But once the flowering process begins, this symbolism becomes obvious.
The lotus plant begins its flowering process by sending up a round flower bud atop a long stem. Once the bud emerges above the water’s surface, the delicate petals begin to unfurl, staying pure in color and beauty.
While the lotus is one of the most well-known flowers to symbolize purity, there are others—just check out the daisy meaning.
The lotus plant’s ability to bloom even in challenging habitats also symbolizes the ability to overcome challenges and adversity. If you look at a patch of lotus leaves sitting atop murky, swampy water, you may think the plants have no chance of producing their enchanting flowers.
However, these plants continually surprise onlookers as they send up stunning lotus flowers despite living in sometimes ugly and harsh environments. When the plants bloom, they remind us that beauty can emerge even when life looks ugly.
Practitioners of yoga and reiki sometimes use the lotus flower to help themselves and others connect with and accept negative emotions. The lotus serves as a reminder that feelings such as sadness and unrest are not inherently bad, but may serve as the foundation that allows something beautiful to emerge.
The lotus flower’s ability to produce numerous flowers from the depths of water makes it a symbol of rebirth. While each individual lotus bloom only lasts for a few days, the plant will continue to produce new flowers over time. As one flower fades, another emerges.
The lotus’s symbolism of rebirth also relates to how it produces and sprouts seeds. Each year, lotus plants produce hundreds if not thousands of seeds. Some of these seeds are eaten by wildlife, and others fall into the water where they float on the surface or sink to the muddy bottom. While some of these seeds germinate shortly after they are created, others sit dormant for years as the weather changes, the water around them drains, and time goes on. When the right conditions appear—whether that takes a few months or hundreds of years—the seeds germinate to produce a new lotus plant.
Therefore, the lotus flower can serve as a reminder that once one good thing ends, another may begin. The loss of a job may give way to a more meaningful or lucrative opportunity, and the end of one year gives way to the ability to start anew in the next year.
In Hinduism, the lotus flower represents the birth of all beings. Many gods are also portrayed as emerging from or sitting on lotus flowers, indicating this flower gave birth to these important deities.
Meaning and Symbolism of Lotus Flower Colors
Lotus flowers come in a variety of colors, and each color holds a specific meaning.
White Lotus Flower Symbolism
The white lotus flower is seen as a symbol of purity and perseverance. It reminds us to hold strong to our beliefs despite whatever is happening around us.
Pink Lotus Flower Symbolism
Beautiful pink lotus flowers are the most common color utilized in Hindu imagery. They are seen as symbols of rebirth as well as beauty.
Red Lotus Flower Symbolism
Along with symbolizing the ability to overcome adversity and be reborn, red lotus flowers are linked to passion and bold expression.
Lotus Meaning in Religion
The lotus flower is an important symbol in numerous religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While the lotus flower’s symbolism is similar between these different religions, each group of followers holds the lotus flower dear for specific reasons.
In Hinduism, numerous deities are associated with the beautiful lotus flower. Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma, and Kubera have all been portrayed sitting on a pink lotus throne and/or holding pink lotus flowers. Hindus view the flower as a symbol of one’s ability to capture energy moving through their chakras, aka specific energy points, and move towards divine enlightenment. Followers believe that each person possesses the sacred spirit of the lotus flower.
Buddhists admire the lotus flower’s ability to emerge from murky waters untarnished and beautiful. They also relate the flower to each individual’s ability to hold their values true no matter the conditions surrounding them.
Buddhists also view the lotus flower as a symbol of cause and effect, since the lotus plant can both bloom and produce seed at the same moment. The lotus flower was also said to be used during the flower sermon, during which Gautama Buddha silently transmitted wisdom over to his disciple, thereby starting Zen Buddhism.
Additionally, one of the most important teachings of Buddhism—The Lotus Sutra—is named after this flower. This sutra teaches that all beings are capable of full enlightenment, no matter who they are or what school of Buddhism they follow.
In Jainism, the founders of the religion (Tirthankaras) are pictured on sacred lotus thrones.
Lotus Flower Fun Facts
Along with holding a wealth of symbolism, the lotus flower also has other interesting features tied to it. Here are some of the best lotus fun facts.
- It’s the national flower of India and Vietnam. The lotus plant grows throughout both of these Asian countries, with the bright blooms adding beauty to landscapes.
- The lotus flower is a popular tattoo. If you’re wondering about flower meanings for tattoos, know the lotus flower is a symbol of perseverance and a pure spirit.
- It makes a better aquatic plant than cut flowers. Although lotus flowers are beautiful, they don’t work well as cut flowers. So if you’re looking to send flower arrangements, it’s better to opt for other types of blooms.
- Lotus tubers are edible. That’s right—lotus plants have more to offer than gorgeous flowers! Many people grow these plants for their large, crunchy tubers that can be used raw in salads or fried into chips.