India is divided into States (like France into Regions, Spain into Provinces, Ireland into Counties etc…) and each of them almost have their own culture, traditions and language.
But if there is one day when the whole country is reunited for an occasion, it is August 15th, their Independence Day.
I owed to celebrate that special day with my little students in the slums so they could understand what national pride was, and know where their country was on the World map. The Indian Flag would need to be involved in some kind of way…
I was afraid to offend my local community unintentionally, so I went to my Papaji (my Indian Dad) for advice, in order to avoid any wrong step. Just because I could always go to him and he was always happy to be that figure taking care of me. He called me “Beti”, Hindi for “my daughter” (what a feeling to feel part of another family, so far from home!).
Once, the idea I came up with caught the attention of my Papaji, and he explained that in India, there is a whole law about the Indian Flag. By law I mean rules on how it should be made, how it should be displayed (eg. if it is displayed with other flags, no other flag should be placed higher than the Indian one), how it should be used (eg. it should not cover the desk of a speaker at a conference…or anywhere else where it could get dirty), how it should be placed according of its place (eg. official building, vehicule etc), the flag should not be used in advertisement, should not be covered with letters…
No Indian flag should be damaged, or in a position to be damaged. Therefore it should not touch the floor. For that reason, people should not dress with the flag.
In many European countries, people would go to a sport match with their flag around their waist, as if they were wearing a skirt, around their neck as if wearing a scarf etc…and it would not be dramatic if it fell on the floor. But in India, it would be totally disrespectful of the flag.
And when Papaji asked me what about the French Flag…I didn’t have clue! I had never heard such things. All I knew was it was forbidden to burn the French Flag. I had a look on the internet that day and could not find anything.
In the centre of the Indian flag, you can see what was originally the spinning wheel that represents Gandhi’s will that Indian people make their own clothes.
Now this wheel represented with 24 spokes is called Ashoka Chakra which means “the wheel of law”.
The Orange colour refers to Strength, White to Peace and Green to Fertitily.
Since I know how high Indian people have their flag in their esteem, how strong their love for their country is, and how proud they are to be Indian, I have to say I have a certain admiration for it, I mean even more than ever before.
“Jai Hind” (Long life to India)