It’s Independence Day today and just like every year, today too we shall wake up in the morning and watch the parade on TV, listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech, attend a flag hoisting in our college/society and then meet and discuss the state of the nation. Each Independence Day is incomplete without a flag hoisting and the singing of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana. But then, while we Indians proudly stand and sing the anthem and even salute the flag, do we really know how the flag evolved? We do know that the Indian flag is called the tricolour as it has 3 colours – Saffron on top, White in the middle and Green at the bottom. The three strips are further enhanced by the Ashoka Chakra in indigo in the center. Also Read - Burj Khalifa Lights up With Tricolour to Celebrate India's 72nd Republic Day

[ALSO READ: Do you know India celebrated their first Independence Day on 26th January, NOT 15th August!] Also Read - What is Nishan Sahib, The Flag Hoisted by Protesting Farmers at Red Fort?

But then, while the Indian flag is synonymous with India’s freedom struggle and the fluttering flag always makes us proud, there are very few who know the significance of the colours or the fact that this was not India’s first flag. India has always had a host of rulers over her land before she finally became free in 1947. Each of the kingdoms and the rulers who ruled the country had their own flags before independence. Even the British had created their own flag for colonial India. But when the freedom movement gained momentum in the country, the leaders decided it was time for the country to have its very own flag and thus, the first ever Indian flag was born! And no, it looked nothing like the present version of the flag. Also Read - Republic Day 2021: ITBP Jawans March With Indian Tricolour at 17,000 Feet in Frozen Ladakh | Watch Video

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Coming back to the colour of the flag: you have saffron which stands for strength and courage. The middle strip, which is white signified peace and unity/harmony in the nation and the third strip that is green stands for growth and development of the land. The Ashoka Chakra in between symbolises Dharma and righteousness. Wow. That’s a whole lot of facts about our country right there in the national flag. But then, coming back to the first ever flag… What was the aim behind that flag? How did they design the flag and what were the colours used? What did they signify? Read on to know more…

[ALSO READ: 9 Things Bollywood should get freedom from this Independence Day]

The first ever Indian flag was unveiled in 1906 after the need for a unanimous flag was felt to promote the nationalists. The flag that was unveiled in Calcutta was done without any fanfare and very few common-men knew of it. However, this became the base for future designs. The flag was tri-coloured but not the present colours. The colours were saffron, yellow and green. The saffron strip on top had 8 simple flowers, the green strip on the bottom had a sun on the left and a crescent moon with a star in it on the right. The yellow strip had the text Vande Mataram written in the Devnagiri script.

Flag 1

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

However, as this flag was not accepted by most of the masses and except for some nationalists, no one was aware of its existence, the flag was soon modified and some changes made to it in terms of colours and design. The next flag, with a modified design was unfurled just next year in 1907. The flag was pretty similar to the 1906 flag except for the fact that the tricolour colours were inverted. The top band was now green, the middle band yellow and the bottom band was red instead of saffron. The 8 semi-open lotuses stayed on top in the now-green band and at the bottom, the position of the sun and the moon was changed. The sun was bright, shining and had a white border to it and the crescent moon did away with the star. The text still said Vande Mataram in Devnagiri script.

[ALSO READ: 12 Different versions of our National Anthem that will send shivers down your spine!]

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The very same year, the flag was once again modified and this time around, the changes were pretty drastic. Everything from the colour to the design was completely altered. Although it still remained a tri-colour, the colour combinations made it completely unique to all the flags we have seen so far. The top of the flag was now a deep blue stripe, followed by a yellow stripe and a red stripe at the bottom. it looked more like a mix of the Union jack colours interspersed with Indianness and Indian shades. On top of the stripes were designs in white and black. The top stripe had one large star at the left of the flag and 7 tiny stars following it. The bottom red strip had the sun and the moon – sun on the left and the crescent with a star in it on the right. In the middle strip were the words Vande Mataram but the words were written in black and left-aligned without any space between them.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The next flag was unfurled 10 years later, in 1917 and was a proposition of the leaders striving for the Home Rule Movement. The Home Rule Movement wanted to achieve self-governance in the country and achieve Dominion status. To this effect, the created a new flag which was entirely composed of red and green stripes. The flag had 5 red and 4 green stripes placed horizontally and on the upper left corner of the flag was the Union Jack. A crescent and a star were placed in the top right of the flag. Leading from the Union Jack diagonally was a series of white stars – 5 stars in a straight row and two stars on the left – total of 7 stars signifying the Saptarishi constellation (Ursa Major) which is sacred to the Hindus.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

4 years later, Gandhiji unveiled his first flag for the Indian National Congress – the flag was based on the concept of self-reliance which he wanted to promote. Initially, the flag had just a 2-coloured background (red and green which stood for Hindus and Muslims respectively) signifying the two main religions practiced by the Indians. There was a charkha in the middle of the flag. it was designed by Pingali Venkayya. However, there was a delay in creation and delivery of the flag which meant that Gandhiji could alter it to include more religions and he then added a white strip at the top to signify all other existing religions in the country. His interpretation of the flag stayed the same till 1929 when finally, under the pressure of political correctness, he changed the significance of the colours to their present form.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 1923, the Swaraj flag was unfurled which looked pretty similar to the present flag in terms of background. The tricolour was made of the saffron strip on top, white in between and green at the bottom. The center had the spinning wheel or charkha – and had the same significance, that of making India self-reliant and promoting Swadeshi movement. In 1931, the Indian National Congress officially adopted the flag. The flag was in use till 1947 when the charkha was replaced by the 24-spoke Ashoka Chakra for Dharma and righteousness, despite stiff opposition from Gandhiji who wanted the flag to be more sensible rather than aesthetically appealing. This flag has been the most popular flag of India.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wow! That is one long and crazy history. Which of these designs do you like the most? And wht is your opinion about the hsitory of our flag? Let us know in comments!