Culture & TraditionNepal

On the Nepali Flag

On August 23, 2014, almost 40,000 people congregated at the Tundikhel ground in Kathmandu to participate in a unique event. They were there at the call of an organization that hoped to create a new world record of sorts—making the largest national flag. Around 30,000 people in nearby Lahore, Pakistan had done so in March of the same year, and had set a new world record. Well, Nepal succeeded in bettering Pakistan by a substantial margin, and it was something to be proud of. But then, barely four months later, about 45,000 Indians made an even bigger national flag in Chennai. South Asians certainly seem to have a knack for this sort of thing!

Leaving these events aside, let’s talk a bit about the Nepali national flag, which really is already one-of-a-kind in its own right. It’s the only triangular-shaped flag in the world (two-triangles, actually, or perhaps non-quadrilateral would be a better description). As any vexillogist will tell you, the Nepali flag is extra special. Dr. James Grime, faculty of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, has noted that the Nepali flag is the most mathematical of all the flags of the world.

Most people believe that the moon on the upper triangle symbolizes the Shah ruling dynasty of Nepal, with the sun on the lower triangle representing the Rana dynasty.

Schedule 1, Article 5 of the Nepal Constitution has specific requirements for making this unique flag. The measurements have to be very, very exact with regard to the border, the outline of the two triangles and the sun and moon emblems. The two emblems, the sun and the moon, must be white, and the border blue. The flag as a whole is crimson in color. A set of very detailed instructions must be followed, regarding measurements.

Most people believe that the two pennants of the Shah and Rana dynasties are the origin of the shape of the Nepali flag, and that the moon on the upper triangle symbolizes the Shahs, with the sun on the lower triangle representing the Ranas. There are others who are of the opinion that the two emblems represent the two major religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) of the country, and yet others who think that the sun symbolizes the bravery of the Nepalis, with the moon depicting their love for peace. There is universal agreement on the meaning of the colors red and blue, with red representing bravery and victory and blue representing peace. Initially, the two emblems were depicted as faces, and it was only on December 16, 1962, that the Nepali flag as it is today, was officially adopted by the government.

Photo credit: Malmaison Hotels / Flickr
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