Independence Day 2021: Here's all you need to know about the story of India's Tricolour flag

New Delhi:

India is in full swing for the celebrations of its 75th Independence Day. Every corner of the nation is painted with the tricolour. When August nears, we all remember the sacrifices of our freedom fighters who gave up their lives for their country and their contribution towards building an independent nation. Most of us only know the flag of India as the tirangaa which has orange, white and green colours in it — each of them signifying different meanings. However, this flag, which represents India all over the world has changed its face a few times to stop at how we see it today.

The current tricoloured Indian National flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya of Macchilipatnam in 1916. While the flag has gone through many changes, Pingali Venkayya is credited for its rudimentary design. But before the ‘Tiranga’ came into existence there were other versions of our national flag. The evolution of our Tricolour is enmeshed with the evolution of our nation’s history and the Indian National Movement. 

Sister Nivedita or popularly known in India as Bhagini Nivedita is often credited for the first design of Indian Flag. This Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda designed a flag using yellow & red in 1904 with a ‘Vajra’ in the centre and the words ‘Vande Mataram’ written in Bengali on either side of the flag. While the colour red signified the freedom struggle, the yellow colour denoted victory. The Vajra was a depiction of Lord Indra’s weapon and stood for strength. 

On August 7, 1906, the national flag was unfurled in Parsee Bagan in Kolkata. Now known as the famous Girish Park, this was the first time that the national flag of India was hoisted. This was a tricolour flag with three equal stripes of green (on top), yellow (in the middle) & red at the bottom. The green panel had 8 lotus flowers, half-opened & the yellow portion had the words Vande Mataram in Devnagiri script.

In the same year, based on the Calcutta flag, yet another flag was designed by Madam Bhikaji Cama, Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma. Popularly known as that Cama flag, this exhibited in the socialist conference in Berlin. This was largely based on the Calcutta flag. It was tricoloured, the top strip had only one lotus and seven stars denoting ‘Saptarishi’ and the colour saffron was introduced in the top panel while green occupied the bottom strip. This flag also had the words ‘Vande Mataram’. This was the first time that India’s flag was being unfurled on an international level. It was popularly known as the Berlin Committee flag.

The third flag came up in 1917. This was designed by Annie Besant & Lokmanya Tilak during the Home Rule Movement. This was a definitive point in Indian history, the Home Rule movement had set the stage for the national struggle. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately. This flag retained the depiction of Saptarishi with seven stars super-imposed on them. At the top left corner, towards the pole was the symbol of Union Jack. There was also a white crescent and star opposite to it on the right corner. 

It was in 1921, when Mahatma Gandhi was visiting Vijayavada, a young man named Pingali Vankayya had taken a flag designed by him which had the colours red and green to represent the two major religious communities in India. However, Mahatma Gandhi advised on adding the white colour to the flag in order to represent all the other communities that resided within the nation. He also suggested the addition of the ’Spinning Wheel’ or the Charkha, which was emerging as a powerful symbol of the nationalist struggle.

A decade later, 1931 emerged as a landmark in the history of our tricolour. It was important that the flag depicted the ethos of the nation and did not have any religious forbearance. Venkayya redesigned the flag. The red was replaced with saffron and placed at the top. The white and green stripes were retained as the centre and the bottom panel, respectively. The symbol of Gandhiji’s Charkha was placed at the centre of the flag. The Saffron signified strength, White stood for truth and the bottom depicted fertility. A resolution was passed in the Congress Committee to make this as the official flag of India. This was also the battle ensign of the Indian National Army.

About National Flag

The National Flag of India has a horizontal strip of three colours including deep saffron (Kesaria) at the top, white in the middle, and dark green at the bottom. The ratio of the flag width to its length is 2:3. In the white band, at the centre, a Navi-blue wheel is there which represents the chakra.

Do you know what these colours indicate?

– The top saffron colour indicates the strength and courage of the country.

– The white middle band indicates peace and truth with Dharma Chakra.

– The green shows the fertility, growth, and auspiciousness of the land.

– The design of the wheel appears like the wheel on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Its diameter is approximate to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes. 


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