Mumbai flag colours, decoded.
Indians (and Mumbaikars), we love our flags. It marks territory. It proclaims our identity. It sits on the top of a big long rod and it is a great way to compare the length of our egos. It waves at the people we like. It waves away the people we don't. Once upon a time we had caste marks on the forehead. Some even had tattoos to permanently mark identity. Head-dress, the fabric we wrap, the twists and turns of the turbans on the head, the list goes on. We now wear pants and our foreheads are naked but flags are doing a great job to keep the age-old habit going. So if you are in Mumbai, here are some of the many flags that you will encounter.
The plain saffron swallowtail: Shiv Sena or Marathas
The unofficial flag of Maharashtra is the plain saffron coloured swallowtail of the Maratha Empire. It is also the flag that the most powerful political party in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena uses. After all, it is a party that was formed to safeguard the interests of the Marathi speaking people in Mumbai, But over the past few week, it seems to be slowly becoming the identity of just the Maratha community. The reason is the Maratha Mukh Morcha or silent protests across the state for a list of demands including reservation in education and jobs and the people marching are trying very hard to keep the political parties from waving their flags at all the rallies. The biggest of the rallies is coming to Mumbai in a couple of weeks and we can expect to see a lot of flag waving in the city.
What will that mean to the flag that Shiv Sena uses? We will have to wait and see.
|A saffron flag of the Shiv Sena flutters over the doorway of a Parel housing society.|
Dhangars: Yellow Swallow Tail.
Maharashtra like the other states of India seems to be extremely caste ridden and all political parties seem to be caste groupings. One flag that has been increasing evident across the Central suburbs of the city and in Navi Mumbai is the yellow flag. It is often accompanied by pictures of the old queen of Indore, Ahilyabai Holkar. They became prominent after the people of the Dangars caste (more infor here ) started campaigning for the benefits the state gives to the Scheduled Tribes.
Yellow can also be seen at Gurdwaras of the Sikhs but with the Degh Tegh Fateh (victory to charity and arms) symbol.
|The Dalit Buddhist flag|
|The International Buddhist Flag designed in the late 19th Century.|
Dalits: Blue of the Indian flag's Ashoka Chakra.
The flags with several variations of blue and the Ashoka Chakra belong to the various Dalit political and social organisations. And the international Buddhist flag that is mostly used only in viharas.
The people who follow Islamic beliefs wave the green flag with the moon and star and the colourful ones that come out when the Sunni groups hold their frequent ijtemas. During Muharram, flags with white and blood stains can also be seen in many parts of the city.
Some local politics:
Coming back to the Maratha flag and the Silent Protests by Maratha people from across the state, there is one other demand. It is the removal of the SC & ST prevention of atrocities Act. It is an act that is supposed to fast track crimes against SCs and STs. It also makes the state provide compensation to victims of caste violence from the state. The Marathas believe that it is a law that targets them and want the law to be scrapped. However, there are people who think otherwise. For example: This news article from Indian Express. And this poster from the Dalit political group that has cropped up in Govandi, Mumbai.
|Be warned atrocity.|
Continuing with the flags we wave...
LGBT: Rainbow Flag
The one that comes out when there is a queer parade or event only.
Temple flag: Gujarati communities.
As colourful as the flags of the LGBT community.
Red flag of the Labour movement: A flag that went missing
Tricolour: The Indian national Flag.
And finally, the shop that sells flags of all political hues can be found on Dr BR Ambedkar Road in Lalbag, near Currey Road Station.