National Flag and National symbols

The National Flag of Sri Lanka represents the country and her heritage as a rallying device that integrates the minority races with the majority race.

The flag is an improvisation of the civil standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasingha.

The civil standard had a passant royal lion with a sword in it's right fore paw at the center, and a bo-leaf on each of the four corners on a plain border.

When Sri Lanka gained her independence from Great Britain on February 4, 1948, it was the lion flag of the last king of Sri Lanka that was hoisted.

The first Prime Minister of independent Sri Lanka, D.S.Senanayake, appointed a committee to advice the government on the design of a new national flag. The design approved by the committee in February 1950 retained the symbol of the lion with the sword and the bo-leaves from the civil standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, with the inclusion of two vertical stripes green and orange in colour.

The significance of each symbol of the national flag is as follows:

  • The lion in the flag represents the Sinhala race.

  • The sword of the lion represents the sovereignty of the country.

  • Curly hair on the lion's head indicates religious observance, wisdom and meditation.

  • The beard denotes purity of words.

  • The handle of the sword highlights the elements of water, fire, air and earth.

  • The nose indicates intelligence.

  • The two front paws purport to purity in handling wealth.

  • The vertical stripe of orange represents the minority Tamil race and the green vertical stripe the minority Muslim race.

  • The border round the flag, which is yellow in colour, represents other minor races.

  • The bo-leaves at the four corners of the flag represent Buddhism and it's influence on the nation. They also stand for the four virtues - Kindness, Friendliness, Happiness and Equanimity.

  • The maroon coloured portion of the flag manifests the other minor religions.

The national flag was hoisted for the first time on March 3, 1950.

Occasions for Display of the National Flag

The National Flag should be displayed-

  • on days of National importance, such as the National Dat and on such other days as are prescribed by the Government

  • at all State functions

When displayed Outdoors,

  • Whenever the National Flag is flown, it should occupy the position of honour and be distinctly placed.

  • On the occasion of a visit of a foreign Head of State/Government when his/her National Flag is displayed the Sri Lanka National Flag also should be displayed.

  • The National Flag should always be hoisted slowly and ceremoniously as for lowering.

  • The National Flag should be flown with the two vertical stripes next to the flag-pole. (Figure1)

  • The National Flag must be given pride of the place. No other flag should be placed over it. If there are flags of other nations they should be flown at same level and to the left of the National Flag of Sri Lanka, with all the flag masts being of equal height. Flags should be of approximately equal size but generally not larger than the National Flag. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace. (Figure 2)

  • Religious flags should be displayed at the same level. (Figure 3)

  • The flag may be flown on buildings at night also but only on very special occasions. On all such occasions, the flag should always be floodlit while it remains hoisted.

  • When a number of flags of localities or pennants of societies, school and club flags, etc., are grouped and displayed from staffs with the National Flag, the National Flag should be at the centre and at the highest point in the group. (Figure 4)

  • When flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the National Flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.

  • When the National flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a windowsill, balcony or front of a building, the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-mast. The staff should be at an angle 45 degrees and not horizontal. (Figure 5)

  • When the National Flag is displayed over the middle of a street it should be flown horizontally along its length with the lion upright. (Figure 6)

  • On days of national mourning the National Flag should be flown at half-mast The National Flag when flown at half-mist should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant then lowered to the half-mast position, but before lowering the National Flag for the day it should be raised again to the peak. Whenever the flag is required to be half masted it is to be lowered a third of the height of the mast as measured from the peak of the mast. The occasions on which the National Flag should be flown at half-mast will be decided by the Government. (Figure 7)

Display in Processions :

  • The National Flag should never be carried flat or horizontal but always aloft and free.

  • The National Flag when carried in procession with another flag should be on the marching right. If there is another line of other flags the National Flag should be in front of the centre of that line. (Figure 8)

  • The National Flag should not be dipped to any person or object. Regimental colours, flags of schools and organizations or institutional flags are dipped as a mark of honour but not the National Flag.

Ceremonial hoisting of the National Flag:

  • The National Flag should be attached to the halyard before hoisting and the flag should be folded and either placed on a high object(never on the ground) or held by hand.

  • The flag should be hoisted only from the pocket and not from the the fly. Hanging the National Flag on a string will therefore be inappropriate. When flying from the pocket the masts should be vetical or at an angle if projecting from a building on a staff towards a roadway or compound.

  • The chief guest at the function should hoist the National Flag smartly. During the ceremony all should stand attention, face the flag and refrain from smoking, drinking, eating, conversing, laughing or acting in a way that distracts from the solemnity of the occasion. Service personnel in uniform will salute as prescribed in respective service orders. (Figure 9)

  • During the ceremony the playing magul bera and blowing of the traditional conch shell should be encouraged whenever possible. No other music should be played. (Figure 1)

  • Immediately after the National Flag is hoisted the National Anthem should be played or sung by a choir and preferably by all those present.

  • During rendition of the National Anthem when the National Flag is displayed all persons present except those is uniform should stand attention facing the National Flag. Persons in uniform should render the appropriate salute. Men not in uniform wearing head-dress and not saluting should remove their head-dress.

The complete code of use issued by the Government can be downloaded here.

National Sport

Sport in Sri Lanka is a significant part of Sri Lankan culture. Volleyball is the national sport in Sri Lanka. Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. Rugby union is also popular. Other popular sports are water sports, badminton, athletics, football, basketball and tennis. Sri Lanka’s schools and colleges regularly organize sports and athletics teams, competing on provincial and national levels.

The game of Volleyball was introduced to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1916 by Mr R.W. Camack the then Director of Physical Education at the Colombo Y.M.C.A. However there is evidence that Sri Lanka was playing a similar game long before this introduction. Mr Camack also demonstrated and instructed how to play the game initially to Teacher Trainees of the Teaching Training College and students of the school around Colombo.

National Flower

The Water Lily is a beautiful flower which is usually violet-blue in color with reddish edges. The plant has been used since ancient times to enhance the beauty of ponds. Some varieties have white, purple, mauve, or fuchsia-colored flowers. Water Lily is native to southern and eastern parts of Asia.

The beautiful Nil Manel or blue water lily, was declared as the national flower of Sri Lanka in 1986. Again in 2016, the national flower was officially announced as the Water Lily, more commonly known as the Manel flower, and not limited to the Nil Manel. According to Buddhist legends, this flower was one of the 108 auspicious signs found on Prince Siddhartha’s footprint. It is said that when Lord Buddha died, lotus flowers blossomed everywhere that he had walked in his lifetime.

National Tree

Scientific name : Mesua ferrea

Na Tree was decided as the National Tree of Sri Lanka on February 26, 1986, because this tree is most closely related to the Sri Lankan people socially and habitually for thousands of years. This tree has special value for the people of Sri Lanka. This is closely related to the Sri Lankan people in some centuries before who did not use it a little like an ancient Aryuveda medicinal plant, wooden buildings in ancient temples and bridges.

The flowers are among the parts of worship in religious rituals and adorn the national park with the beauty of trees and flowers. In Indonesia alone, especially in Java, the Na Tree, known as the Nagasari tree, has little benefit in both its wood and fruit and flowers. Some ethnic groups believe it is a repellent tree.

This tree which is a rare plant in Sri Lanka is one of the fortified species because of its connection with national identity and Sri Lanka’s strong commitment to preserving the environment.

The flowers are white, fragrant, and are used as herbal ingredients. While the wood is the hardest and longest so that it is not used little for temples, bridges and so on in the past.

The shape of the leaves varies, from thin to thick, measuring 1 × 5 cm to 5 × 18 cm, but often 3 × 10 cm. The leaves are narrow, elongated, oval, long and pointed round. Young leaves at the top are pink and turn green if they are old. The combination that creates the Na tree looks beautiful.

Buah Na is an oval capsule containing 1-3 seeds. The fruit and seeds of Na contain 76% oil and have a high value because they can be used as medicine.

Na trees can be up to 30 meters high and 70 cm in diameter. The inner skin is dark brown. The next coat is filamentous reddish brown and publishes clear color sap. The brown wood is pseudo-brown in pink. The hardwood is red, hardest, solid and thick — the smallest branch, round and hard to see.

National Bird

The Sri Lankan Jungle fowl (Gallus lafeyetii) was first described in 1831 by Lesson and is a member of the family Gallus, the same family as the domestic chicken. The ancestor to all domestic chickens is the Red Jungle fowl (Gallus gallus). It has the distinct honor of being the national bird of Sri Lanka and is depicted in postage stamps etc. There are 4 species of Gallus so far recorded from Asia. The Red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), the Grey jungle fowl (Gallus sonneratii), the green jungle fowl (Gallus varius) and the Sri Lankan jungle fowl (Gallus lafeyetii). The Sri Lanka Jungle fowl is endemic to Sri Lanka, and is not found anywhere else in the world.

As the norm for the genus Gallus, the males and females can be easily identified due to their different colours. Males are reddish orange to yellow in colour, sporting a red comb (crest) and a yellow patch in the centre. Their tail is metallic blue-black. The females are usually different shades of brown in colour with black markings and buff bands on top. They have reddish-brown and black wavy lines, streaked with brownish-buff below, and the rest being largely black-streaked.

The Jungle fowl is a terrestrial species, and is found always scratching the ground for food as with the domestic chicken. They are omnivorous by habit and feed on a myriad of food, ranging from worms, fruits, frogs, and other vertebrates and invertebrates.

The female lays 2 to 4 eggs on nests abandoned by other birds or even squirrels, or on nests built on the forest floor of Sri Lanka's hill country. Males play an active role in protecting the nests an in rearing chicks.

The call of the Jungle fowl is said to sound like the name John Joyce, which is repeated every few seconds. They are also known to flap their wings, this sound is made when a male announces his arrival or when there is a territorial dispute amongst males.

Emblem of Sri Lanka

The national emblem of Sri Lanka is used by the State of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government in connection with the administration and government of the country. The current emblem has been in use since 1972 and created under the ideas and guidance of Nissanka Wijeyeratne. At the time, he was Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Chairman of the National Emblem and Flag Design Committee. The designer of the emblem was Venerable Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera, and the artwork was by S. M. Seneviratne.

The emblem features a gold lion passant, holding a sword in its right fore paw (the same lion from the flag of Sri Lanka) in the centre on a maroon background surrounded by golden petals of a Blue Lotus the national flower of the country. This is placed on top of a traditional grain vase that sprouts sheaves of rice grains that circle the border reflecting prosperity.

The crest is the Dharmachakra, symbolizing the country's foremost place for Buddhism and just rule. Traditional Sinhalese heraldic symbols for the sun and the moon form the supporters. Sun and Moon, and Lion depicting.

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