Symbols and Symbolism

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

India, as all Indians know, is a land of much diversity: diverse people, diverse languages and diverse culture. It’s a melting pot of all this and more. The founders of our nation and many along the way have tried to capture these diversities and our culture for the untrained eye in the form of symbols. These national symbols occasionally remind us of where we belong, what we stand for and what our country is about. And we have needed this reminder several times in our history.
The national flag, the tricolour is derived from the Swaraj flag designed by Pingali Venkayya, which was originally the flag of the Congress during the freedom struggle. The original design consisted of two colours: red for Hindus and green for Muslims. In the centre was the traditional spinning wheel, symbolizing Mahatma Gandhi’s goal of making Indians self reliant by fabricating their own clothing. The design was then modified to include a white stripe in the centre for other religious communities. Subsequently, to avoid sectarian associations with the colour scheme, saffron, white and green were chosen for the three bands, representing courage and sacrifice, peace and truth, and faith and chivalry respectively. The charkha was replaced by the Ashok Chakra, representing the eternal wheel of law. It was indeed a wise decision to not let any sectarian notion be associated with the flag of a secular nation, which is so often on the brink of major sectarian conflict. The national flag has been a part of many controversies regarding private hoisting of flags. Many a time, many people have been held to book by the society as insulting the flag and have been made to render public apologies for the same. The fact that the national flag was placed below the BCCI symbol on the helmets of the Indian cricket team kicked up a storm. However, sometimes this sentiment is taken too far. Sania Mirza once found herself being sued for ‘putting her right foot in front of the national tricolour’. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the national flag evokes much emotion in the heart of Indians.
However, the same cannot be said of other national symbols. Hockey, which is our national sport, definitely takes a backseat when other sports, or particularly cricket, takes over national consciousness. Cricket is followed like religion and the players are like gods. The men in blue are among the highest played cricketers in the world and Indian cricket is what rakes in the most moolah. The plight of hockey and its players, in comparison, is dismal. India has done very poorly in hockey in the recent years. Hockey players are just other faces in the crowd. The management of the sport in the form of the Indian Hockey Federation was until recently torn apart by controversy. It actually takes a cricketer, Virender Sehwag, to endorse the Hockey World Cup to pull in the crowds!
The tiger, or Panthera Tigris, is the national animal of India and symbolizes India’s wildlife wealth. The website of the government of India says that ‘the combination of grace, strength, agility and enormous power has earned the tiger its pride of place as the national animal.’ Though given the current state of tigers, with just 1411 tigers left, it seems India needs to look for other national animals which do not run the risk of becoming extinct. Cows should make sense. They can be seen everywhere: on the streets, outside you homes and everywhere else and run no chance whatsoever of going extinct.
The Peacock, the national bird of the country, is seen as a symbol of grace, joy , beauty and love. The peacock occupies a significant position in Indian culture and religion. Hindu mythology describes the peacock to be the ‘vahan’ or vehicle of Karthikeya and Goddess Saraswati. Lord Krishna is always depicted with a peacock feather tucked in his headband. Ancient kings were said to have gardens to raise peacocks where guests were invited to see the male peacock dance during the mating season.
The lotus is our national flower and the banyan tree is our national tree while the mango is our national fruit.

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

Comments are closed.