Kamala Harris’ Name Is Inspired by the Lotus Flower

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By Jill Brooke


Did you know that Kamala Harris is named after a flower?

Yes, it’s true.

The first female Vice President in U.S. history. explains that her name means “lotus flower” in Sanskrit.

“It’s a symbol of significance in Indian culture,” says Harris. “A lotus grows underwater, it’s flowers rising above the surface while the roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.”

Aside from a lotus flower, Kamala also is a name linked to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of good fortune.

Proudly bi-racial – her mother Shyamala Gopalan was an immigrant from India who became a cancer researcher and her father Donald Harris was a Stanford economics professor who was born in Jamaica – Harris is known as someone who adores flowers.

Her mother says she named her daughter Kamala because “a culture that worships goddesses produces strong women.”  In fact, Kamala ’s middle name is Devi which also means the goddess since her mom encouraged Kamala and her sister Maya to believe in female empowerment. 

To acknowledge her Indian roots when she married her husband Douglas Emhoff in 2014,  she placed a flower garland around her new husband’s neck and to respect his Jewish faith, she also stomped on a glass as part of his traditions.

The lotus flower is beloved in many cultures. Even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the lotus flower can emerge as a beautiful flower. That is why it also is a symbol of purity and enlightenment.

Video produced by Jake Aryeh