At the recent celebrations of Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day, the national flag was, in all its vibrant colour, hoisted once again. By now, most of us would be familiar with the colours and motifs on the flag, each representing the different religious and ethnic groups in the country. What we’re probably less familiar with, however, are the flags representing each Sri Lankan province.
Here’s a look at the nine flags of the nine provinces of Sri Lanka, their histories, symbols and motifs.
The design on the flag of the Western Province is made up of concentric rectangles. The rectangle at the centre has four white sacred fig (bo) leaves on all four corners, with three white circles in the middle.
The four sacred fig leaves denote the four brahmavihara(immeasurable attitudes) of Buddhism—metta (love), karuna(compassion), muditha (joy), and upeksha (equanimity). The three circles each contain the motif of an animal representing the districts of the Western Province. A golden bird represents the Kalutara district, a lion the district of Colombo, and a golden cobra the Gampaha district.
The flag of the Southern province bears many similarities to the national flag of our country—the maroon background of the flag is emblazoned with a golden, sword bearing lion, and there are four sacred fig leaves on the corners of the flag.
Like the flag of the Western Province and the national flag, the sacred fig leaves represent the four immeasurable attitudes of Buddhism. The symbol of the lion holding a sword represents justice and equality for all people. Some historians believe that this flag is very similar to the flag which King Dutugemunu’s army carried when going into war.
This flag represents the districts of Matale, Nuwara Eliya, and Kandy. The golden, sword bearing lion and four sacred fig leaves at the centre of the flag represent the Kandy district, while the districts of Matale and Nuwara Eliya are represented by the white background and white lotus flowers, respectively.
North Western Province
This flag was introduced for the North Western Province in the year 1987. The flag displays the motif of a buffalo, surrounded by images of the sun, the moon and stars on a white background.
The flag of the Uva Province has a yellow background with red designs, with the motif of a swan at the centre, symbolising qualities of regality, greatness and pleasantness.
North Central Province
The flag which represents this province highlights the history of the ancient Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa kingdoms. The images of a stupa and stone pillar within the circle at the centre represent the district of Anuradhapura. The stupa displayed here is the first stupa built in Sri Lanka by King Devanampiyatissa, the Thuparamaya stupa.
The circle also contains an image of King Parakramabahu the Great, representing the Polonnaruwa district. The stalks of rice that surround the circle symbolise the agricultural activity of both districts, with rice cultivation an important economic activity in this region.
The flag of this province—like that of the Southern Province—bears a resemblance to the national flag. The motif of a lion bearing a whip represents justice and fairness, while the four sacred fig leaves symbolise the four immeasurable attitudes of Buddhism.
The flag of the Northern Province contains three blocks of red, white, and green. The green block represents the agriculture of the Northern Province, while the red block represents the Hindu religion and culture, and the white block symbolises peace and harmony. The blue border around the flag represents the ocean resources that Sri Lanka, as an island, possesses in abundance.
The flag of the Eastern Province bears images of a fish, a lion and an eagle within three brown circles. The eagle represents the district of Trincomalee, the fish the district of Batticaloa and the lion the district of Ampara.
Research by Hasintha Subasinghe
Featured image courtesy ftp.playbuzz.com