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Civil Service Exam: Art and Culture: National Symbols of India

Feb 26, 2016 15:45 IST

    For the Civil Service aspirants, Art and Culture is a very important section which is silently mentioned in the IAS Syllabus. Centre for Cultural Resources and Training provides complete information on the National Symbols of India which is very important for the IAS Exam Preparation. The possibility of asking questions based on National Symbols in Art and Culture section is always remain high, so, it is important to study the historical background of National Symbols of India.

    National Symbols provide an identity and the choice of symbols often reflect the values of a particular nation. The National Symbols of India are the manifestations of Man's yearning for spiritual and emotional well being, harmony with nature and are the expressions of his artistic creativity through the ages.

    NATIONAL FLAG

    The story of the origin and adoption of the National Flag is indeed a fascinating one. Personal, racial, and political ideologies have influenced the concept and design of the flag as we see it today.
    It is not confirmed, but commonly believed that the first National Flag had three horizontal stripes. The middle yellow colour had Vande Mataram in blue written across it in the Devanagari script. Eight lotus flowers were embossed on the top stripe which was of green colour and on the bottom red stripe there was a white sun on the left and a white crescent and star on the right. Some scholars assert there was no star on the crescent on the flag that was hoisted on August 7, 1906 in the Parsee Bagan Square in Kolkata.

    In the story of the evolution of the flag, we come across another flag which was unfurled at the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart, Germany in 1907 by Madame Cama and her band or exiled revolutionaries. This was similar to the first flag except for a few changes. The design of the eight lotus flowers was different; the sun on the bottom red stripe was shifted to the right of the flag and the crescent to the left. There was no star on the crescent. This flag was smuggled into India by Indulal Yagnik, the socialist leader of Gujarat.

    NATIONAL ANTHEM

    Every song cannot be a National Anthem, whatever be its literary qualities. While conducting a study, one may find that there are very few National Anthems which have been chosen solely on the basis of literary merit. What are the factors which distinguish a National Anthem from any patriotic verse? According to experts, among other things it can be sung in chorus to evoke a feeling of patriotism in a large group of people.

    Our nation is proud to be independent, as there are countries which are still dependent territories of other nations and principally use the National Anthem of the ruling country. Two of the Indian National Songs having a hallowed history vied with each other for the status of the National Anthem. These are Vande Mataram by Bakim Chandra Chatterjee and Jana-gana-niana by Rabindranath Tagore. Each of the songs are works of India's greatest writers and evoke nostalgic memories.

    NATIONAL FLOWER

    Flowers are nature's gift to Mother Earth and are symbolic of the celebration of life. They vary in their texture, colour, fragrance, shapes and sizes. The softness of the petals, the subtle shades of colours, and the variety of fragrance and their tranquil delicate beauty bring out the hidden artist in every beholder.

    All nature is worshipped in India and hence flowers are sanctified and are commonly used as offerings in homes and in houses of prayer. The natural landscape of India is a canvas mosaic of flowers of every species - some grow wild in the mountain ranges and valleys, others cultivated by the genius of botanists and the changing seasons bring their own special varieties. Flowers form part of every ritual, ceremony or festival whether religious or social.

    NATIONAL CALENDAR

    We judge the cultural standards of the ancient people by the calendar they used. In the appearance and development of the calendar, we find evidence or a mass of astronomical observations and mathematical solution of an organised society, with its comprehensive administrative and military state machinery, commodity production, international trade, a higher intelligentsia and higher spiritual interests. So the development of the calendar not only reflects the history of ancient astronomy but also ancient civilization in general.

    The basic unit in measuring time is the day. It is the period of a full revolution or the earth round its axis. In ancient times, the determination of the duration of one day was particularly difficult. The solar day, or the interval of time between two consecutive moments in each of which the shadow of a vertical rod shrinks to its minimum length, is slightly longer than the period of time in which the Earth actually makes a full revolution round its axis. In other words, the solar day is slightly longer than the actual or sidereal day. We can understand how this discrepancy could, in the course of years, affect the calendar unless it was detected and computed, the calendar would gain time and the time of year in the calendar would lag behind its initial seasonal and climatic characteristics.

    NATIONAL EMBLEM

    The National Emblem of India is a partial reproduction of Ashoka's Lion Capital, which is a great masterpiece of plastic art. In this, only three lions appear resting on the abacus, the fourth being hidden from view. Though these figures rest on a bell shaped lotus, but it does not figure in the National Emblem.
    Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru while addressing the Indian Constituent Assembly on July 27, 1947 mentioned “the Ashokan period was essentially an international period of Indian History. It was not a period when Indian Ambassadors went abroad to a far-oil country and went abroad not in the way of Emperors and Imperialists but as Ambassadors of peace and culture and goodwill”.
     
    NATIONAL BIRD

    The Peacock is called Mayura in Sanskrit, it is known to kill snakes. There are numerous depictions of the peacock holding a dangling snake in its beak in Indian paintings and sculptures. Another name for the peacock is Shikhi or Shikhavala “the possessor of the crest", for the peacock has a crest or crown on its head of blue-wire like feathers, also called plumage, which gives it a majestic and regal appearance.

    The peacock was the symbol of the Mauryas, a name derived from the word mor (peacock). It is said, that the peacock is so hypnotised by the sound of the thunder of the clouds that, mistaking the sounds emanating from percussive instruments such as Pukhawaj or Mridangain for the thundering of clouds before the advent of the rains, it begins to dance in sheer ecstasy to herald the monsoon season.

    NATIONAL ANIMAL

    The Tiger is a symbol of power and strength. Its majestic, graceful movements create an awesome fear in the inhabitants of the forest. Yet, man has sometimes been able to tame the great beast with love and discipline.

    The tiger is found in many habitats from the mangrove swamps of Sunderbans to the dry thorn forests of north western India and the tall grass jungles in the Himalyan foothills. The Royal Bengal Tiger, found in Sunderbans, is one of the most magnificent animals. It is reddish brown in colour with broad black stripes on his head and back. Its bright burning eyes, powerful jaws and sharp teeth that can effortlessly tear up a buffalo, the blood chilling roar which can be heard for more than two miles, fill one with fear. Similar to the Bengal Tiger, White tiger is also found in different parts of India. It is white in

    NATIONAL SONG

    The song, Vande Mataram is older than our National Anthem and was penned by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in his novel Anandamath published in 1882. The origin, however, dates much earlier perhaps in the seventh decade of the nineteenth century. The first political occasion when Vande Mataram was sung was at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress. Rabindranath Tagore scored the music for the song.

    The partition of Bengal in 1905 marked the beginning of a national awakening. Later on during the anti-partition movement in Bengal, the song Vande Mataram was sung at all gatherings and evoked patriotic feelings. By the time the Bengal provincial conference was held at Barisal in 1906. The song had become very popular as it generated passion and love for the motherland. All the public meetings that were held in Bengal to protest against the partition started with the singing of Vande Mataram. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore himself sang the song on the opening day of the Congress Session.

     

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