On August 7, 1906, the national flag was unfurled in Parsee Bagan in Kolkata. Now known as the famous Girish Park, this was the first time that the national flag of India was hoisted. This was a tricolour flag with three equal stripes of green (on top), yellow (in the middle) & red at the bottom. The green panel had 8 lotus flowers, half-opened & the yellow portion had the words Vande Mataram in Devnagiri script.
In the same year, based on the Calcutta flag, yet another flag was designed by Madam Bhikaji Cama, Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma. Popularly known as that Cama flag, this exhibited in the socialist conference in Berlin. This was largely based on the Calcutta flag. It was tricoloured, the top strip had only one lotus and seven stars denoting ‘Saptarishi’ and the colour saffron was introduced in the top panel while green occupied the bottom strip. This flag also had the words ‘Vande Mataram’. This was the first time that India’s flag was being unfurled on an international level. It was popularly known as the Berlin Committee flag.
The third flag came up in 1917. This was designed by Annie Besant & Lokmanya Tilak during the Home Rule Movement. This was a definitive point in Indian history, the Home Rule movement had set the stage for the national struggle. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately. This flag retained the depiction of Saptarishi with seven stars super-imposed on them. At the top left corner, towards the pole was the symbol of Union Jack. There was also a white crescent and star opposite to it on the right corner.
It was in 1921, when Mahatma Gandhi was visiting Vijayavada, a young man named Pingali Vankayya had taken a flag designed by him which had the colours red and green to represent the two major religious communities in India. However, Mahatma Gandhi advised on adding the white colour to the flag in order to represent all the other communities that resided within the nation. He also suggested the addition of the ’Spinning Wheel’ or the Charkha, which was emerging as a powerful symbol of the nationalist struggle.
A decade later, 1931 emerged as a landmark in the history of our tricolour. It was important that the flag depicted the ethos of the nation and did not have any religious forbearance. Venkayya redesigned the flag. The red was replaced with saffron and placed at the top. The white and green stripes were retained as the centre and the bottom panel, respectively. The symbol of Gandhiji’s Charkha was placed at the centre of the flag. The Saffron signified strength, White stood for truth and the bottom depicted fertility. A resolution was passed in the Congress Committee to make this as the official flag of India. This was also the battle ensign of the Indian National Army.
The final and current tricolour came about in 1947. While the colours and their significance remained the same. Only the symbol of the Spinning Wheel or Charkha was replaced by Ashoka’s Dharma Charkha as the emblem on the white stripe of the flag. On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as independent India’s National Flag.