TODAY -

What is all about a flag ?

Free Thinker *



Manipur had a flag, in two colours, a white one and a red one – both featured Pakhangba (dragon king) at the centre. Nobody knows when Manipur started using this flag; but certainly the flag was used by our Kings since time immemorial ( Perhaps since First century AD).

Now-a-days another flag is also visible – a multi-coloured flag perhaps representing the clans/tribes of the land. This flag is a new edition symbolising unity and strength. These flags have no political importance now. However they are significantly in vogue in our socio-cultural rituals and ceremonies.

I am told that the Nagas hoisted a flag in 1956. The flag has a blue background, representing sky; a red, yellow and green rainbow arches across the centre; the star of Bethlehem adorns the top left corner of the flag.

Nagas are predominantly Christians. The conglomerate of Naga groups also asserted that their Flag should be recognised as a political symbol ; it can’t be confined to socio-cultural activities as suggested by the Federal Government.

A few days back a young activist asked me, what is the significance of a flag ?

Frankly speaking I didn’t know the significance of a flag but to cover-up my ignorance, I simply gave an instant reply “it is a kind of identity symbol representing a nation or a state or an organization or an institution or even a club”. Later when I referred to the dictionary I was almost correct. However a flag is not a symbol alone it is also associated with a meaning or a history.

The significance lies within – flag is just a way for a country or an organization to portray itself to the rest of the world (meaning is hidden).

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary a flag is a piece of cloth with a special coloured design on it that may be the symbol of a particular country or organization or may have a particular meaning.

A flag can be attached to a pole or held in the hand. According to Whitney Smith ( flag specialist) wrote in his book “Flags Through the Ages and Across the World” that cloth flags were invented in ancient China and gradually spread all over the world.

One interesting fact I found while referring to the dictionary is that – Flag day is a day when money is collected in public places for a charity and people who give money receive a small paper sticker. Another interesting piece of information I gathered – 14 th June is the American Flag day, the anniversary of the day when the Stars and Stripes became the national flag of the United States.

On June 14, 1777 to establish an official flag for the new nation the Continental Congress passed the Flag Act – it resolved that the flag of the United States be made of 13 Stripes , alternate red and white representing 13 original colonies of the USA.

Historically , flags originated as military standards used as field signs. Military flags or battle flags or standards are in a way variant of a Ruler’s flag. The use of flags as field signs apparently emerged in Asia in Ancient times in India and China and later in Iran.

In Achaemenid Persia each army division had its own standards/banners. Early field signs were not exactly flags, they were called vexillord (flag-like).The Roman vexillum itself was also flag-like but it was suspended from a horizontal crossbar as opposed to a single flagpole.

Perhaps the oldest war- flag was that of Arjun (Mahabharat); Lord Hanuman protected the Chariot of Arjuna throughout the battle of Kurukshetra by residing in Arjuna’s flag.

There is a story behind it ;

Lord Hanuman is immortal;
once he(disguised as a small monkey) was deliberately blocking the way of Arjun;
the monkey said you can’t move further because there is a big river ahead,
I am waiting for someone capable to help me cross the river;
Arjun said come-on I am Arjun the best archer in the world,
I shall make a bridge made of arrows for you; monkey (Hanumanji) wanted to break the ego of Arjuna;
monkey allowed Arjun to make a bridge of arrows for him to cross the river;
Lord Vishnu was watching the drama;
Vishnu ji knew that the bridge made by Arjun can be dismantled by a simple touch of Hanuman;
Visnuji himself came under the bridge of arrows;
when Hanuman tried to break it by a single step , the bridge remained sturdy;
Hanuman was impressed and then tried to dismantle it by all his strength but he could not damage the bridge;
then he looked down under the bridge – he saw Lord Ram ( Vishnu ji ) supporting the bridge with great difficulty;
then Hanumanji acknowledged the importance of Arjun in Vishnu Lila and he graciously introduced himself to Arjun and assured him that he will always remain present in his war-flag.

Whether the Federal Government can allow the States to use a State flag which can be unfurled or hoisted along with the Federal Flag ( Tri -colour).

My another query is which flag will adorn the SriRam Mandir at Ayodhya ?

Will it be the usual elongated triangular saffron flag or something else ? Whether the King of Ayodhya had a flag of its own ? Let the Apex Court decide.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on November 16 2019.



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