The present day Indian tricolour was adopted back in 1947 on July 22, representing the independence of India. The tiranga, bearing three stripes of saffron, white and green, with a navy blue Ashoka chakra in the centre of the white band, is a symbol of great pride for every Indian.
As India evolved through the ages, so did our flag.
One of the oldest flags in record is that of the Mughal Empire. The moss-green coloured flag bore a roaring lion with a rising sun in the backdrop. The flag represented India since the 16th century until the fall of the Mughal Empire in 1858.
India was also recognised by the flag of the imposing Maratha Empire at the time of its reign from 1674-1818. The flag was swallowtail shaped and was plain saffron-coloured.
In the era of the British East India Company, their flag was adopted from the years 1773 to 1858. It was a variant of the United Kingdom flag with red and white stripes in the background.
After the dawning of the British Raj, a new flag was adopted bearing the insignia of the Star of India over a red banner. The flag remained official from the First War of Independence in 1858, till India’s Independence in 1947.
Although the flag of the British Empire wasn’t completely abolished until independence, revolutionaries adopted multiple flags over the decades in the 20th century.
The first such flag founded the tricolour trend. The flag was inspired by another, one designed by Sister Nivedita, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. This flag had three stripes of blue, yellow and red and had the words ‘Vande Mataram’ written across the yellow band in Devanagiri. The blue stripe consisted of eight stars with inconsistent shapes and the red band bore a sun, and a crescent with a star.
This flag, commonly dubbed as the ‘Lotus Flag’ or the ‘Calcutta Flag’, was unfurled in the Parsee Bagan Square in Calcutta in 1906 on August 7. This flag, which was also a tricolour, consisted of three stripes of green, yellow and red. Much like the last flag, this one too had ‘Vande Mataram’ written across the yellow band and had a crescent and a sun printed on the red band. The green band had 8 lotuses. Sachindra Prasad Bose and Sukumar Mitra have been speculated to be accredited for this flag.
Designed by Madam Bhikaji Cama along with fellow revolutionaries, this flag was very similar to the ‘Lotus Flag’ except the print of the lotus on the first stripe. The flag was hoisted in Paris by Madam Cama in 1907.
The next flag was designed for the India Home Rule Movement in 1916 and was probably hoisted in a Congress session in Calcutta. The swallowtail flag had a variant of the United Kingdom flag over red and green stripes with a crescent moon and a star and a Saptarishi constellation printed in white.
Another tricolour, this flag was the first to bear the ‘charkha’ upon the suggestion of Mahatma Gandhi. The flag, that had three stripes of white, green and red with a dark-blue charkha, was approved and hoisted by Gandhi in 1921.
The widely popular flag was heavily inspired from the last one and consisted of India’s signature saffron, white and green tricolour. The white band consisted the a blue charkha. The flag was adopted by the Indian National Congress and hoisted on August 31, 1931.
(1947- Present Day)
With the replacement of the charkha with a Dharma Chakra or Ashoka Chakra consisting 24 spokes, this flag was adopted to represent an independent India. The saffron in the flag represents the courage and sacrifice of our heroes, the white represents peace and truth, while the green denotes our soil, representing faith, fertility and prosperity. The Chakra, placed in the centre of the white band represents the eternal wheel of law.