It’s not just a piece of cloth that we salute, especially on every August 15 or January 26: the Tricolor has a breathing, living, rich legacy. The saffron, white and green colours signify our sacrifice and strength, purity, and prosperity. The Ashoka Chakra in the centre depicts the ‘dharma chakra’. The Indian flag in drenched not only in history but also the struggle that went into creating a glorious history.
Here are few facts that you might not have known about the Tiranga that flutters high above us and under whose gentle shade we breathe the rejuvenating air of freedom:
1. The first flag representing the Indian union came into being in 1906. Between the years 1906 and 1947, the flag was designed and redesigned five times before arriving at the final pattern. Finally, it was the Tricolour that we adopted on July 22, 1947 as our national flag. The flag was designed by a freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya.
2. While citizens of many countries put on their flags as bikinis or undergarments, the original flag code forbid Indians from using the Tricolour as embroidery on pillowcases, handkerchiefs or any other garment. Then a 2005 amendment, however, eased things up a bit: it allowed limited use of the flag in garments, but never below the waist. Maintaining the sanctity of the Indian flag is one of our duties as citizens of a free nation.
3. On May 29, 1953, the honour of hosting our magnificent flag was bestowed upon the highest peak in the world, Mt. Everest: the Tricolour was hoisted on the mountain top where it took to the air with the Union Jack and the National flag of Nepal.
4. If you want to hoist the flag this Independence Day, make sure you get yours from Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha, for this Hubli-based association alone has the license to produce and supply the national flag across India. The original Tricolour will always be made of khadi (an eco-friendly, handwoven fabric).
5. Until 2002, private Indian citizens were forbidden to fly the national flag on days besides the Independence Day or the Republic Day. But Indian industrialist Naveen Jindal filed a petition arguing that it is every citizen’s right to hoist the flag and express his love for the country at all times as long as due decorum is maintained and the honour of the flag is upheld. The petition was accepted and private citizens were granted the right to hoist the flag on any day of the year, while safeguarding its dignity, honour and esteem.
6. The success of Mangalyaan (India’s spacecraft to the Mars) has catapulted India to new heights in the field of space sciences, but space isn’t a new frontier for the Tricolour. In fact, it had made its maiden visit to outer space way back in 1971, on the American spacecraft Apollo 15. The flag once again took off to space in 1984, during the joint Indo-Russianspace flight: Cosmonaut Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma wore it like a medallion on his spacesuit.
7. The Flag Code of India has laid down nine different sizes in which the flag canbe made. These measurements vary from 6×4 inches to 21×14 feet. The Maharashtra government’s secretariat in Mumbai — the Mantralaya — flies a flag of the latter size.
8. Nonetheless, a colossal Tricolour — 110 meters in length and 24 meters in width — was hoisted on a flag mast standing 360 feet tall at the Atari border in March 2017 by Anil Joshi and has been titled the largest national flag of India amast on the highest pole. It is said to be visible from Lahore, Pakistan, as well.
9. When the national flag is flown on Indian territory with flags of other nations, the prescribed rule is that the Tricolour marks the starting point for all other national flags. If you see a car provided by government flying the Indian flag on its right side accompanied by a foreign flag on the left, it’s clear that there’s a foreign dignitary in the vehicle.
10. In December 2014, 50,000 volunteers from Chennai came together to form a massive human flag setting a new Guinness World Record for being the largest of its kind.
“It will be necessary for us Indians — Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsis, Sikhs and all others to whom India is their home — to recognise a common flag to live and die for.” These are the words of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, to enunciate the emphatic significance of the Tricolour.