February 2017

Our National Flag
February 2017

We feel a sense of pride when the national flag flies high in the sky. That swelling of your heart comes because our flag unites us as a country; it is the symbol and pride of our motherland.

The Proud Lion
Have you noticed what is special about the Sri Lankan flag? You can spot the flag a mile off because of the majestic lion holding a sword. And that lion had been there for 2500 years; from the day Prince Vijaya from India landed and became the first historical king of Sri Lanka.

First Flags
We have no idea exactly what that first flag looked like; But all kings after Vijaya used the lion. The first flag of which we have a clear picture was used by great King Dutugemunu (2nd Century BC). On it, the lion was accompanied by the Sun and the Moon.

The Flag of Kandy
The next recorded flag is from the Kandyan kingdom, flying over the hill capital from 1469 to 1815. You'd be surprised how similar it looked to the present flag. It had a lion with a sword on a maroon background.

At the four corners of the flag were four ‘pinnacles' (what you find atop a Buddhist stupa). A yellow border ran around the whole thing.

A Discovery
The British took over the country in 1815. Slowly, the memory of the lion flag slipped away under the Union Jack. Almost a century later, an old flag was discovered in the Chelsea Royal Hospital by E W Perera, and D R Wijewardene. The picture of the flag was published in Sinhala newspaper Dinamina in 1915.

A New Flag
After Independence in 1948 a National Flag Committee was formed. The new flag that came out in 1951 had two vertical bands before the lion, one orange and one green.

In 1972 Ceylon got the new name Sri Lanka and the four ‘pinnacles' at the edges were replaced with four Bo leaves. In 1978 the Bo leaves were changed to appear more rounded and natural.