Every country that is a sovereign state in the world creates an identity of its own through a set of symbols that identify that nation. The symbols are essential to the country’s identity; they define what the country stands for and how the country would like to known to the world. They are meant to instill a sense of pride and honor in the citizens of a country. Such is the importance of National Symbols of our country, India.
The symbols of the Indian sub-continent have carefully been chosen to represent the country’s history, legacy, its beliefs and values. There are number of national symbols of India and the ten most regarded (that you must know) symbols among all are:
- National Flag
- National Anthem
- National Emblem
- National Pledge
- National Song
- National Calendar
- National Flower
- National Animal
- National Bird
- Currency Symbol
The National Flag of India
The Indian National Flag is the most important national symbol of India. It is made of three horizontal bands of equal proportions. The flag is also known as “Tiranga” or the “Tricolour”, referring to the three colors of the flag- Saffron, White and Green. The three colors of the flag represent various aspects of the country.
The top most band is the Saffron band which stands for the country’s Courage and Strength. The center White band stands for Truth and Peace. The bottom third band in green represents Growth, Fertility and Auspiciousness of the land. The central white band features a Wheels with 24 spokes known as the “Dharma Chakra” of Emperor Ashoka.
After Independence in 1947, the tricolor was officially adopted as the Indian National flag with a significant change to the Ashoka Dharma Chakra replacing the spinning wheel in the previously designed flag. The reason for choosing the Dharma Chakra (the wheel of law and ethics) was that a moving wheel signifies progress without an end.
The National Anthem of India
An Anthem of a nation is a song sung by its citizens to instill a sense of patriotism, the nation’s history its trials and tribulations, its culture, and its history. The beautiful national anthem of India is one such anthem, penned by none other than the 1st Nobel Laureate of India Rabindranath Tagore.
The Jana-Gana-Mana made its debut on 27th Dec 1911 at the Indian National Congress session in Kolkata. However the Hindi version of Jana-Gana-Mana was officially declared as the national anthem of India on 24th January 1950. The first five stanzas of the national anthem stand for pluralism which were adapted from the Brahmo Hymn. The anthem has two versions – The formal rendition which lasts 52 seconds and the abridged version which only has the 1st and last line lasts 20 seconds.
The orchestral adaptation was composed by Herbert Murrill on the request of the Jawaharlal Nehru. The anthem’s lyrics are extremely Sanskritised and the unique feature of the anthem is that the lyrics is mainly composed of the major languages spoken in India and these nouns work as verbs.
The following formal rendition of the anthem:
“Jana-gana-mana-adhinayaka jaya he
Tava shubha name jage, tava shubha asisa mage,
gahe tava jaya-gatha.
Jana-gana-mangala-dayaka jaya he
Jaya he, Jaya he, Jaya he,
jaya jaya jaya, jaya he.”
The National Emblem
The Emblem of India or Indian National Emblem of the Republic of India is adaptation of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s Lion’s Capital at Sarnath. On 26th January which is when India became a republic it adapted the Emblem that consist of three Asiatic Lions standing back to back on an abacus and the fourth lion is hidden from view. The abacus itself has more symbols of the ‘Dharma Chakra’ or the “Wheel of Law” and flaked on either side with a galloping horse on the right and a bull on the left side. The motto of “Satayameva Jayathi” written in Devanagari script which means “Truth Only Triumphs” is quoted from the final part of the Hindu Vedas the -Mundaka Upanishad.
The original emblem of Emperor Ashok has four lions which symbolize “Power”, “Courage”, “Pride” and “Confidence.” The adapted version emblem also has outline of the Dharma Chakara on far right and left side. The Emblem is used in all official communication of the Government of India, on the passport, and on all Indian currency.
The National Pledge
The Indian Oath of Allegiance or the National Pledge is one of the important symbols of India. It is read out at all national events like the Independence Day and Republic day and at all public events. The pledge instills a sense of pride, love and patriotism in citizens of India. The Pledge was adapted by law as the national pledge on the Republic Day of 1965. It was first written by Pydimarri Venkata Subba Rao in Telugu while he was posted at the Treasury Office in Vishakhapatnam. It was also read for the very first time in a school in Vishakhapatnam in the year 1962. It was forwarded to the Ministry of Education for consideration and was introduced into the text books and is read at all school assemblies. The pledge has been translated to all major languages of India. The following is the pledge in English.
Following are the National Pledge words:
India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well-being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.
The National Song –Vandemataram
The Indian National Song is a very melodious, inspiring and patriotic song called Vande Mataram. Vande Mataram was first penned on 7th November 1875 by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhaya a famous Bengali Poet and novelist in the novel ‘Anandamath’. The song was instrumental in India’s struggle for freedom as it instilled a feeling of love, patriotism towards the motherland. The song was first sung by another famous Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore in the Indian National Congress in Kolkata in 1896. The song subsequently made appearances at the Indian National Congress Meetings in 1901 and then 1905. The words Vande Mataram were also inscribed on the very first Indian national flag. The Song was adapted at the National Song of India when India became a republic in 1950.
The National song is just the 1st two stanzas of the original song written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhaya. Bankim was government official of the Raj, when he wrote the song in Bengali and Sanskrit and was later asked to make a tune for the song as well.The song’s first two words Vande Mataram were used as a cry for freedom and every freedom fighter would shout these words as war cry against the atrocities of the British.Vande Mataram means “Mother, I bow to thee” and the Motherland and love for the motherland is an integral part of Indian culture. Vande Mataram was almost a slogan that was use throughout the Independence struggle and at all meeting, rallies, and then entire movement. The mere words would rouse a sense of strong patriotism and love for freedom for the Motherland.
The following are the original lyrics of the songs followed by the English translation:
sasya syamalam mataram
sukhadam varadam mataram
Meaning of National Song of India in English
“Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving Mother of might,
Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.
The National Calendar
The Saka Calendar or the India National Calendar is the official civil calendar of India. It is used as uniform social calendar for the country. It is published in “The Gazette of India,” for announcements in news broadcasts in All India Radio, and all official communications and calendars given by the Government of India. The Calendar has 12 months but begins on the 22 March of the Gregorian calendar. The calendar months are based on the Hindu Lunisolar calendar and so names are slightly are in the older form.
The National Flower
The Indian National flower is the Indian Lotus , also known as the Sacred Lotus, was made the Indian National Flower in 1950 when India became a republic. The Lotus flower has long been associated with India’s culture and history. It is known as the flower of divinity, purity and spiritual development. Saraswathi the Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom is seen seated on a white Lotus and Lord Brahma the creator is seen seated on a pink Lotus flower. It is also said that the Lord Brahma was born from the Lotus navel of Lord Vishnu.
The Lotus signifies the path to Enlightenment because the lotus must pass through a lot of dirty water before it can emerge just a soul should before it can attain the path of Enlightenment. Even after the flower blooms it remains in the dirty water by none of the dirty adheres to it keeping it pure and sacred. The Lotus is a very important flower in the Buddhism as well and can been seen in most depictions of Lord Buddha.
Owing to all these qualities the Lotus was instilled as the National flower of India.
The National Animal – Tiger
Tiger or Panthera Tigris is recognized as the National Animal of India. The Tiger was an unanimous choice for Indian National animal as the tiger is found only in the Indian sub-continent in the entire world thus making it a perfect choice. The Tiger or the Royal Bengal Tiger a sub species of the Tiger appears on most of the symbols in India. The Tiger is tied to Indian history and culture from time immemorial as the symbol of the Indus valley civilization, as an emblem of Chola coins, as religious symbol as Goddess Durga’s consort. It is the emblem of the Reserve Bank of India and appears on all the paper currency.
This majestic Tiger is a symbol of Power, Patience, Confidence, and Fierceness that represents everything about India.
The National Bird- Peacock
The beautiful Peacock is a fitting National Bird of the great nation of India. The Peacock is an epitome of Grace, a symbol of beauty, and a representation of joy and love. The Peacock is native to the sub-continent and an integral part of India’s culture, history and tradition. The Peacock is represented in all of the major religions of India, Hinduism, Islam and Christian and other religions as well. The Peacock was officially announced as The National Bird 1963 by the Government of India. The peacock was rightly chosen because of the inclusions of the bird throughout India’s history making it the obvious choice as the national bird.
The Rupee Sign
The newest of the National Symbol of India is the currency sign of the Indian Rupee. It was first introduced on 15 July 2010 by the Government of India. The Rupee sign was selected from an open contest held in India. It was designed by Udaya Kumar who is an Associate Professor in the IIT Guwahati and a Visual Design student of the Industrial Design Center, Mumbai. The sign is unique to the currency of India only as other countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Sir Lanka also use the Rupee as their currency. The sign is a combination of the Latin Capital Letter ‘R’ and the Devanagari Script (Ra). The parallel lines resting at the top of Rupee sign are symbolic of the ‘equal to’ sign in mathematics signifying the India’s objective to overcome economic inequality.