Nivedita’s flag failed to capture the popular imagination and it was a tricolor designed by Sachindra Prasad Bose and Sukumar Mitra that was approved and accepted by Surendranath Banerjee and the Bengali Congress. The flag had eight half-open lotuses (for the 8 provinces) on the top, the words Vande Mataram in the middle and a sun and crescent moon, representing Hindus and Muslims respectively, at the bottom.
It was this flag that was displayed at the Second International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart in August 1907 by freedom activist and social worker, Madame Bhikaiji Rustom Cama. She made a fiery speech at the end of which she dramatically unfurled the flag and said, “I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world in the name of this flag to cooperate in freeing one-fifth of the human race.”
Thus was born the first truly ‘national’ flag. The British, of course, saw it as a symbol of revolution and prohibited it from being flown or displayed in public places.
The Jabalpur and Nagpur Flag Satyagraha was organized to protest against this repression in 1923. Thousands of people courted arrest after taking the flag in procession. The flag became a symbol of India’s aspiration for freedom.
The first public flag hoisting ceremony was held on the afternoon of 15 August, 1947 at India Gate. According to Lord Mountbatten, when Pandit Nehru unfurled the flag, a rainbow magically appeared in the cloudless summer sky. Surely, a heavenly salute to a hard-won flag.