The World Buddhist Flag was one hundred years old (in 1985) on the Vesak full moon day of the year 1885. This first centenary of the Buddhist Flag was celebrated in Sri Lanka by issuing a special commemorative postal stamp and declaring a special public holiday for the first time by the government in 1885 as a result of the agitations led by the well known American Buddhist Colonel Steele Olcott.
At this time Buddhists did not have a flag that could be accepted by world Buddhists irrespective of their cultural and geographic differences. Therefore the Buddhist leaders of Sri Lanka under the guidance of the Maha Nayaka Theros like Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda designed the present Buddhist flag symbolising the six colours of the halo that emanated from the body of the Buddha when he attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Buddhagaya on the night of the Wesak Day 2535 years ago.
The six colours are believed by the Buddhists to have emanated from the body of the Buddha and symbolised in the Buddhist flag are as follows:
(a) blue (b) yellow (c) red (d) white (e) orange and (f) a mixture of all this five.
However, it was finally brought to the present rectangular shape by a committee led by Colonel Steele Olcott, shortly after the Wesak Celebrations, and approved by the Maha Nayaka Theros of all sects. Thereafter it was gradually accepted in other Buddhist countries like Thailand, Burma and Japan. When the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) held its inaugural General Conference in Sri Lanka in 1950 under the leadership of late Dr. Gunapala Malalasekera, this flag was unanimously accepted as the World Buddhist Flag.
Today it is the flag used by Buddhists as individuals and groups all over the world to mark any Buddhist event or celebration, because it symbolises the most significant event in the history of Buddhism, namely the Buddha's attainment of Enlightenment. It was when He realised the Four Noble Truths and the Law of Dependent Origination that this halo of six colours emanated from his body.
Voice of Buddhism, June 1985, Vol.1. 22, No.1.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 13:21