Posted on July 26th, 2015

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

Flaunting of a counterfeit ‘ National flag’ during hysterical remonstrations organised by a ‘handful of frontline organisers of the  ‘ bring back Mahinda brigade’ prior to the nominations day managed to disturb the national hornet’s nest and triggered more damage to their own self image, merely by the denuding their hypocrisy.

However, later realising their folly and then coming back with open public apologies was akin to ‘murdering a person and then saying ‘sorry’ afterwards’ some critics put it at the time, for, the damage had already been done irreparably after attempting to brainwash and poison the mindset of the masses to fulfill their ulterior motives. By their own act they managed to a greater extent conveniently manage to convince the country’s intelligent people that they are nothing but a ‘hard up’ and ‘two- faced’ selfish group of charlatans who were ready to bring about racial cacophony for their personal political gain!

distorted Lion Flat

The National Flag

When Vijaya, the first King of Sri Lanka, arrived in Ceylon from India in 486 BC, he brought a flag with a symbol of a Lion on it. Since then, the Lion symbol has played a significant role in the history of Ceylon/ Sri Lanka.  The North Indian Prince who followed King Vijaya too used the flag extensively and finally it became a symbol of freedom and hope.

When King Dutugemunu confronted and defeated the South Indian invader Elara, the banner he carried portrayed a Lion carrying a sword on his right fore-paw along with two other symbols, the Sun and the Moon.

The flag was in use until 1815, until the supremacy of the Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Wickrama Rajasinha was evicted on 2 March by the Kandy Convention and proclaimed King George III as King of Ceylon thus replacing the Lion flag with the Union Jack as the national flag of Ceylon. The Lion Flag was taken to England and kept at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

In 1807 it is recorded that the sword was an indicator of Official Rank so that the more senior persons in what could be described as a colonial civil service would wear a more lavishly adorned weapon etc., and that was also the intent though perhaps to a lesser degree in the Portuguese and Dutch periods’.

The late E. W. Perera and the late D. R. Wijewardene, (Pioneer of Lake House Newspaper Group Ceylon Ltd), who played a major role in the Independence movement of Ceylon, in the 1940s, discovered the original Lion flag in Chelsea. The Lion flag then became the cynosure of all eyes since the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom.

On Friday January 16, 1948 when the question of the National flag became an issue among the political leaders of the day Mudliar, A. Sinnalebbe (Batticaloa) rose in Parliament and moved, “That this house is of opinion that the Royal Standards of King Sri Wickrama Raja Sinha depicting a yellow Lion passant holding a sword in its right paw on a red background, which was removed to England after the Convention of 1815, should once again be adopted as the official flag of free Lanka”.


 The National Flag of this country has been designed with great care and purpose to represent Sri Lanka’s heritage. It consists of a Lion holding a Kastane sword in its right fore-paw; red background in front with four golden Bo leaves in every corner, two vertical coloured strips of equal size to its left, in orange and green. The yellow represents the majority of Buddhists, orange signifies Hindus and green indicates Muslims. Golden lion epitomises the Sinhala civilization and Kastane sword stands for the authority and bravery of the nation.

The four Bo leaves signify Buddhism and stands for the four virtues – Metta (loving kindness), Karuna (compassion), Upekksha  (equanimity) and Mudita (happiness); the eight hairs in the Lion’s tail suggests the noble eightfold path of Buddhism; handle of the sword characterises four elements of nature, earth, air, fire and water; the nose of the Lion exemplifies the intelligence and its beard signifies the purity of word.

Contemporary Flag

When Ceylon gained her independence from the British on 4th of February 1948, the Lion flag was hoisted once again. The first Prime Minister Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake appointed a committee seeking advice on the design of the flag, and the Committee in return approved the retention of the symbol of Lion with the sword and the Bo leaves with two vertical green and orange colour stripes. The modern national flag with the significance of each symbol was hoisted for the first time on 3 March 1950.

It is very important to note that the Constitution of Sri Lanka carries a picture of the National flag with an explanation under Article 6, and in the 2nd Appendix indicates how the National flag should appear. Article 83 of the Constitution also instructs on the process to follow in the event of a change in the design if and when such a change is contemplated.

In such circumstances any distortion to the National Flag becomes a violation of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka and the Penal Code and it is highly illegal for anyone to either disrespect or disregard this national property according to any one’s whims and fancies. If at all, any changes have to be done through a motion in the Sri Lanka Parliament by its members approved only by a two-thirds majority and a referendum.

Distortion  & Demonstration.

 Displaying multiples of distorted National flags by the  ‘bring back Mahinda brigade’ with thousands of their supporters, were done recently at various public protest rallies held at Nugegoda, Kandy, Ratnapura, in front of the Dalada Maligawa, Kandy, at the Bribery Commission and at a protest held on the Parliament road etc., as a means of objecting to a government directive to summon the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Briery Commission. During such rallies the green and orange colour stripes that represent minorities in the country had been conveniently omitted in the distorted flags distributed to the protesters which, the critics say, tantamount to creating disunity among different communities!

This goes to show the imprudence on the part of a few rash thinking politicians creating an unwarranted major legal issue where the Police had to on complaints received by them, direct the matter to a special police team to investigate, aiming at uncovering those responsible to institute legal action and subjecting them to maximum punishment under the penal code.

Colombo Chief Magistrate had already ordered CID to produce the suspects to courts before 13 July, in the case of ‘Distortion of National Flag’ while the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was quoted as stating that ‘the distribution of altered national flags to participants of two anti-government demonstrations could be a conspiracy’!

Whatever the final outcome is going to be at the final decision taken by the Law Courts at the end of the trial (if it materialises at all, in the present environment of political storms in the country) it goes to show the immaturity and selfishness and the greed for power of some of the contemporary Sri Lankan politicians who have the guts to appear before people and say they are totally committed to the welfare of the people they represent and the whole nation.

It’s a shame that the Sri Lankan politics today have stooped to such low and cheap gimmicks in order to confuse the masses and to grab power by hook or by crook!  The time has come for the intelligent constituent to decide the type of representatives they nominate to represent them, either to the local government or as parliamentarians in the future.

Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason”. ~José Maria de Eça de Queiroz,


  1. Dilrook Says:

    There is no legal restriction against holding or displaying the Sinhale (Ceylon) national flag – the flag hoisted at Independence in 1948 and the flag that was used in ancient times. Also there is no restriction in displaying provincial flags, new and ancient.

    Claiming any other flag other than the national flag specified in the constitution as the national flag constitutes an offence. This was not done at these protests.

    This is the correct legal position. As such the people who used these other flags have not done anything wrong. Arresting them is plain political revenge.

    Agree with the main theme of the article. Voters want new faces and new policies. Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason. That applies to political party leaders (21 years is too long for the UNP leader as all other parties have newer leaders) and cricketers too.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress