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Monday, August 16, 2010

Indian Independence and Flag Hoisting Ceremonies.

The British Parliament passed the India Independence Act which received the Royal assent on July 18, 1947. India was partitioned with the creation of two independent dominions of "Pakistan" on 14 August 1947 and "India" on 15 August 1947.

(From the collection of Mr. Gopal Biswas, Kolkata)
On the midnight of August 14-15, 1947 free India’s National flag was hoisted atop Council House, later renamed Parliament Bhavan.

The flag was presented by Mrs. Hansa Mehta on behalf of the "Flag Presentation committee" consisting of all the women members of the Indian Constituent Assembly as a gift from the women of India.

 On August 15,1947 during the Swearing-in-Ceremony at the Viceregal Lodge (renamed ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’ on Jan 26,1950) as the new Government took the oath, the free India’s flag was hoisted for the first time on the central dome at 10.30 a.m. The personal standard of the Viceroy of India, a Union Jack emblazoned with the Star of India, came down the flagstaff of the Viceroy’s House for the last time on the evening of 14th. August,1947. It is now hung in the Norman Abbey of Romsay, the last Viceroy’s Parish Church.
On the evening of 14th August, 1947, the Union Jack was lowered from the Tower of the Residency, Lucknow . This was the only spot in the British Empire where the Union Jack was never lowered since the day in 1857, the Tower had become the shrine of Imperial India, a symbol of that doughty British ability to hold fast in adversity.

On 15 August 1947, at 6 p.m. the great event of the day was to take place - the Salutation of the new Dominion flag. This programme had originally included a ceremonial lowering of the Union Jack; but when Mountbatten discussed this with Nehru he entirely agreed that this was a day they(Indians) wanted everybody to be happy, and if the lowering of the Union Jack in any way offended British susceptibilities he(Nehru) would certainly see that it did not take place.....

In the afternoon of August 15, the first public Flag Salutation Ceremony was held near the “War Memorial Arch” later, renamed “India Gate”. As the Prime Minister, unfurled the flag against a clear summer sky, from nowhere a rainbow resembling the colours of the flag appeared on the horizon which startled the crowed that had assembled there. Lord Mountbatten - the last Viceroy and the first Governor General of India in his 17 th. Report dated August 16,1947 submitted to the Crown, mentioned the mysterious sudden appearance of the rainbow. He wrote, “... the three colours Saffron,White and Green on the flag of the new Dominion resembled so much the hues of the Rainbow”.
The commemorative cancellation was specially provided at Red Fort Post Office on 15 August 1972.
Prime Minister Nehru unfurled the national flag for the first time on the ramparts of the Red Fort on 16th. August 1947 at 8.30 a.m. and not on 15th August 1947. This was a great moment in time ever conscious of history, Nehru referred to Netaji Subhas Bose’s call to “Challo Dilli” and his dream to hoist the ‘Flag of Freedom’ atop Delhi’s Red Fort.

The National flag was hoisted for the first time on the ramparts of the Red Fort (Lal Quila) on 16th. August 1947 and not on 15th August 1947 as is commonly believed.

The Nizam of Hyderabad declared that Hyderabad will remain a sovereign power and will not join either India or Pakistan after the transfer of power. It was declared in Hyderabad that “ flag of any foreign state shall be ceremoniously flown in any public meeting nor any salutation of such flag be made”. Any contravention of the ban would be punishable with imprisonment and fine or both. Swami Ramanand Teerth, the state Congress President demanded that Hyderabad should accede to the Indian Union “..we should not consider the Indian Union flag as that of any foreign state. We wish Hyderabad to be part and parcel of the Indian Union.” Finally, the Indian Tricolour, along with Nizam’s Asafiyah flag, were hoisted atop the Telegraph office of the Indian Government alongside the Residency building at one minute after midnight on 15th. August,1947.

Md. Ismail Sahib, President of the Madras Provincial Muslim League called upon all Muslims in the province to observe Independence Day on August 15 by hoisting the Tricolour Flag 

The 47.5 meter (156 feet) mast at the Fort St. George, Madras (now Chennai) is the tallest flag-mast ever built in India.It was on this Flag-mast the Indian Tricolour was hoisted for the first time in Madras. The historic flag is now in the collection of the Fort  Museum.

Many Hindus in the newly formed Pakistan (then in two segments West Pakistan and East Pakistan) and Muslims in India flew both the flags of India and Pakistan, side by side, not knowing or unable to decide to which country he or she will ultimately belong to. Even after 63 years, perhaps, the dilemma is still exists amongst many.(East Pakistan became independent and renamed Bangladesh in 1971).

 25 th Anniversary of Independence; 1947-1972
  40th Anniversary of Independence 1947-1987

 (Note the two different versions of '50 Anniversary' logo on the stationery)
 50 th. Anniversary of Independence - a selection of Philatelic items issued to commemorate the great event.

 Urgently wanted Post Mark from Washington, USA
Please send your offer quoting minimum price or any other item in exchange.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Birds on Flags, Part - II

Continued from previous Post.
 We have seen Burma (Myanmar) had a flag which showed "Peacock" emblem. The Imperial Mauryas (3rd. century BC) of India had the "Peacock" as their emblem as it was their totemistic bird. Sri Lanka on the other hand also issued a set of four stamps showing Ancient Flags of Sri Lanka. One of the stamp shows "Peacock Flag" of the Walapane Diswa dynasty. Here the Peacock can be seen holding a snake in its beak.
Modern Mexico also adopted the ancient Aztec symbol of an Eagle holding a snake in its beak standing on a nopal cactus. The striking similarity of the themes of both the ancient Sri Lanka's and modern Mexican flags are baffling.
 The Bald Eagle became the National symbol of the USA in 1782 when the great seal of the US was adopted (first conceived by Charles Thomson). The Bald Eagle is the single most prolific symbol in America, it represents unlimited Freedom. There are several Federal/State agencies in the US who have placed Bald Eagle in their flags.


 State flags of the USA having Bald-eagle emblem.
Bald-headed American Eagle on the US Coast Guard Ensign.

Pelican is the state emblem of Louisiana (US). The Pelican in the flag is nourishing its young on blood from its own breast, signifying self sacrifice.

In the third quarter of the shield emblazoned on the flag of Fiji is a "Dove with a sprig of olive" in its beak.

Personal flag of HM Queen Elizabeth II  for use in Australia.
The "White Backed Piping Shrike" at the bottom left quarter representing South Australia, while the "Black Swan" in the next represent Western Australia. 
Next Post > Animals on Flags

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Birds on Flags

Most of my previous posts were devoted to the history and evolution of the Indian National flag under the caption "Quest For a National Flag for India". Since, the series has been completed for the time being, I shall now concentrate on other topics and symbolisms concerning to the National flags of the World.
Most  'National Flags' have symbols and they all have special significance with respect to their country. Symbols on Flags are explicit outward expressions of how the country looks at itself. Let us now glance over such 'Symbols on Flags' as depicted on postage stamps.  


Many countries have placed "Birds" on their National Insignia and flags. Because of the Birds connection to the sky, they have been thought of as a supernatural link between the heavens and the earth. The birds represent a passage between the physical world and spiritual worlds. Birds in flight represent freedom.

The “Double-headed Eagle” devise is inherited from the Byzantine empire. The head on the left (West) symbolizes Rome, the head on the right (East) symbolizes Constantinople. It became widely associated with the Holy Roman Empire. Several Eastern European nations adopted it from the Byzantines and continue to use it as their national symbol to this day, the most prominent being Albania, Austria, Germany, Russia, erstwhile Epirus India’s Mysore State also had a double-headed Eagle the “Gandaberunda” as the royal symbol.


 The legendary Gandaberunda possessing two heads facing away from the other was the emblem of the Mysore rulers of the Wadeyar Dynasty.
Indian Navy adopted the Gandaberunda as the crest of the ship 'INS Mysore'.

'Qureish falcon’ of the Egyptian flag was replaced by the Eagle of Saladin’ bearing on its breast a shield with the national colours in 1984. (Eagle - the emblem of Saladin - a 12th. century Sultan and opponent of the Crusaders)

The flag of Mexico is an Eagle holding a snake in its beak and standing on a prickly pear. The serpent and the Eagle refer to the legendary foundation of Tenochtitlan (Mexico) by the Aztecs combining the two cosmic forces: that of the sun in the eagle and those of the earth in the serpent.

The Condor – a local bird of the Equatorian Andes- opens its wings and with its majesty and energy symbolizes the Fatherland in its effort of self improvement and progress.

The Steppe Eagle or Berkut (Aquila Nipalensis) is a bird of prey. The Steppe Eagle is the national bird of Kazakhstan and can be seen on its National Flag.
The Goshawk (Acor in Portuguese) refers to the Islands of Azores

The Sisserou Parrot (Amazona imperalis) “The Pride of Dominica”, is the National Bird of Dominica. The parrot figures prominently on the Coat of Arms, the National Flag, The Public Seal, The Mace of the House of Assembly and Dominica’s Honours for Meritorious Service to the Country. The Sisserou Parrot is protected and is found only in Dominica.In 1988 the parrot, which was originally facing right was turned to face the left of the flag.

Burma(Myanmar) had once the "Peacock" as their national emblem. According to believes the Peacock heralds spring, birth, new growth, longevity, and love. (Stamps at the top were issued by Burma Independence Army during Japanese Occupation in1943).

The soapstone bird featured on the flag represents a statuette of a bird found at the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. The bird symbolizes the history of Zimbabwe and now is a national symbol. The flag was adopted on April 18, 1980. Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain as Southern Rhodesia in 1965 and then gained independence from Rhodesia as Zimbabwe in 1980.
 The Resplendent Quetzal (Paramocrus Mocinno), the brilliant bird found in the cloud forests of Central America, was sacred to the Mayans and figures prominently in their artwork and legends. Today the Quetzal (also spelled Quetzel and Quesal) is the national bird of Guatemala, and name to the Guatemalan currency.
 The Flag of Kiribati has on the upper half a gold frigate bird (Fregata minor, in Kiribati te eitei) flying over a gold rising sun (otintaai). The frigate bird (also called 'Man-of-War' birds or Pirate birds) symbolizes command of the sea, power, freedom and Kiribati cultural dance patterns. Kiribati's flag is an armorial banner, a flag having a design corresponding exactly to that of the shield in the coat of arms. The coat of arms dates back to May 1937 when it was granted to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, as Kiribati and Tuvalu were then known. The shield was incorporated into the center of the fly of a British Blue Ensign as the state ensign of the colony.

The birds-of-paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae of the order Passeriformes. The majority of species in this family are found on the island of New Guinea and its satellites. The members of this family are perhaps best known for the plumage of the males of most species, in particular highly elongated and elaborate feathers extending from the beak, wings or head. The family is of cultural importance to the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea.

African Balearic Crested Crane (Balearica regulorum) is a bird in the crane family Gruidae. This bird does not migrate. There are two subspecies. The East African Crested Crane is the national bird of Uganda.