Flag of Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg
Name Lion Flag ,Sinhala flag
Use Civil and state flag, civil ensign
Proportion 1:2
Adopted 22 May 1972
Design Dark red rectangular panel bordered yellow containing a yellow lion holding a sword upright in its right fore paw, and four bo leaves, one in each corner, and next to the hoist two vertical stripes, green and orange, also bordered yellow together.
Civil Ensign of Sri Lanka.svg
Variant flag of Sri Lanka
Use Civil ensign
Proportion 1:2
Adopted 1972
Design A red field with the flag of Sri Lanka in the canton.
Blue Ensign of Sri Lanka.svg
Variant flag of Sri Lanka
Use Blue ensign
Proportion 1:2
Adopted 1972
Design A blue field with the flag of Sri Lanka in the canton.
Sri Lankan Army Flag.svg
Variant flag of Sri Lanka
Use President's Colour
Proportion 1:2
Adopted 1972
Design A defaced flag of Sri Lanka with Coat of arms of Sri Lanka
Naval Ensign of Sri Lanka.svg
Variant flag of Sri Lanka
Use Naval ensign
Proportion 1:2
Adopted 1972
Design A white field with the flag of Sri Lanka in the canton.
Ensign of the Sri Lanka Air Force.svg
Variant flag of Sri Lanka
Use Air Force ensign
Proportion 1:2
Adopted 2010
Design A defaced sky blue ensign with the flag of Sri Lanka in the canton and Air Force roundel.

The flag of Sri Lanka, also called the Lion Flag, Sinhala Flag, consists of a yellow lion, holding a kastane sword in its right fore paw, in front of a dark red background with four golden bo leaves, one in each corner. Around the background is a yellow border, and to its left are two vertical stripes of equal size in green and saffron, with the saffron stripe closest to the lion. The lion represents the Sinhalese ethnicity and the bravery of the nation and its yellow color represents Buddhism while the four Bo leaves represent four main concepts of Buddhism Mettā, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha. The orange stripe represents the Tamils, the green stripe represents Moors, and the maroon background represents the majority Sinhalese, like the lion.The flag has a yellow border representing unity and Buddhism .

It was adopted in 1950 following the recommendations of a committee appointed by the 1st Prime Minister of Ceylon, The Rt Hon D.S. Senanayake.


When Vijaya, the first King of Sri Lanka, arrived in Sri Lanka from India in 486 BC, he brought with him a flag with a symbol of a lion on it. Since then the Lion symbol played a significant role in the history of Sri Lanka. It was used extensively by North Indian prince who followed King Vijaya and it became a symbol of freedom and hope. In 162 BC, when King Dutugemunu embarked on the campaign in which he defeated the South Indian invader Elara, who had ruled the northern part of the island, he carried with him a banner which portrayed a lion carrying a sword on his right forepaw along with two other symbols, the Sun and the Moon.[citation needed]

The banner was in use until 1815, when the reign of the last King of the Kandyan Kingdom, King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, was brought to an end with the Kandyan nobility's signing of the Kandy convention on 2 March proclaiming King George III as King of Ceylon and replacing the Lion flag with the Union Flag as the national flag of Ceylon. The government of British Ceylon used its own flag. The Lion Flag was taken to England and kept at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Then, as the independence movement in Sri Lanka gained strength in the early 20th century, E. W. Perera, a prominent figure of the independence movement with the help of D. R. Wijewardene, the press baron, discovered the original Lion flag in Chelsea. A picture of it was subsequently published in a special edition of the Dinamina newspaper to mark 100 years since the end of Sri Lankan independence. The Lion flag then became a centrepiece of attraction to the public, who for the first time since the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom were now aware of its actual design.

In 1948 the flag was adapted as the national flag of the Dominion of Ceylon, however the flag underwent several changes in 1953 and again in 1972. During the same year four leaves of the Bo tree were added to the four corners of the Sri Lankan National flag under the direction 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. Prior to 1972, the corners of the flag were occupied by symbols depicting spearheads.[1] The four Bo Leaves added by Wijeyeratne reflect the core principles of Mettha (loving kindness), Karuna (compassion), Upeksha (equanimity) & Muditha (happiness).[2][3]

1 Flag of Ceylon between 1951 and 1972.
2 Flag of Ceylon from 1948–1951.
3 Flag of British Ceylon, 1815–1948.


The national flag of Sri Lanka represents the country and its heritage as rallying device that integrates the minorities with the majority race. However, minorities are shown as such with percentage based allocation on the flag, rather than equal basis as is common elsewhere including the United Kingdom. Most symbols in the flag have been given distinctive meanings.

Symbol Represents
The Lion and the golden color of lion Represents the Sinhalese ethnicity and the bravery of the Sri Lankan nation.
The bo leaves Buddhism and its influence on the nation. They also stand for the four virtues of Kindness, Friendliness, Happiness and Equanimity.
The sword of the lion The sovereignty of the nation and the braveness of its people.
The curly hair on the lion's head Religious observance, wisdom and meditation.
The eight hairs on lion's tail The Noble Eightfold Path.
The beard of the lion Purity of words.
The handle of the sword The elements of water, fire, air and earth that the country is made of.
The nose of the lion Intelligence.
The two front paws of the lion Purity in handling wealth.
The vertical orange stripe The Tamil ethnicity.
The vertical green stripe The Muslim faith and Moor ethnicity.
The yellow border round the flag People from all cultures living together in Sri Lanka in including some Dutch burghers and Portuguese.
The maroon background This represents the majority of Sinhalese people,it was used in early flags of Sri Lanka by Kings .

[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Volker Preuß. "Sri Lanka (Ceylon)" (in German). Retrieved 2003-09-07. 
  2. ^ Amara Samara in Sinhala. Rivira, Retrieved on 4 January 2009.
  3. ^ Salute the Flag. The Bottom Line, Retrieved on 4 February 2009.

External links[edit]