As if Nepal’s flag wasn’t unique enough (it being the only national non-quadrilateral flag in the world), 35,000 people gathered in the center of Kathmandu at the Tundikhel ground on August 23, 2014, to create the world’s largest national flag. The previous world record was made six months previously by 28,957 Pakistanis coming together to create their national flag. However, Nepal’s achievement was a short-lived one, because on December 7, 2014, it was overshadowed by 43, 830 Indians uniting in Chennai to make their flag the world’s largest yet.
But, there is no reason for Nepalis to despair, at least not in the matter of its flag having a unique and prominent place in any chart or list of the world’s flags. In fact, one could say that Nepal’s flag will garner the attention of anyone interested in the science of vexillologv (study of the history, symbolism, and usage of flags). One such person is Dr. James Grime. Well, actually he is not a vexillogist, but a mathematician and a faculty member of the Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics Department at the University of Cambridge. He has declared Nepal’s flag to be the most mathematical of all the world’s flags. Coming from such an authoritative person, that is really saying something!
You can watch him on http://goo.gl/gZcaQJ as he draws the Nepali flag, following step-by-step instructions as given in Schedule 1, Article 5 of the Nepal Constitution. The given measurements are exact, and include everything from the outline of the two triangles to the sun and moon emblems to the border. On the video, there’s a clock that times his work, and as far as can be seen, it takes him just half-an-hour to complete the drawing. However, if somebody of a lesser breed than a mathematician were to duplicate his effort, then it goes without saying that it will take a whole lot longer, so intricate are the steps.
As a matter of fact, there are 23 steps in all; precise instructions are given in detail in three sections. The first deals with the measurement of different lines, while the second is about the exact placements and measurements of the two emblems—the sun and the half moon—as also about how many triangles are to be drawn to represent the sun’s rays. The third section gives you instructions on how to draw the border. Finally, the sun and the moon have to be in white color, while the border has to be blue. The rest of the flag is to be in crimson color. There are plenty of instructions such as: draw a line ‘CD’ parallel to “AB”, “RS” should be half of “PQ”, and so forth, with almost all the alphabets being used, except for ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’. From this, one can decipher how detailed are the instructions that go into the making of Nepal’s flag. Imagine a procedure consisting of 23 steps and using a total of 27 alphabets to make one flag!
It is generally assumed that the Nepali flag is derived from the pennants of two regimes: one, the bonafide regime of the Shah dynasty, and the other, that of the Ranas, who as prime ministers virtually ruled the country for more than one hundred years (1846 to 1951). Some people assume that the moon emblem on the upper triangle represents the royal house of the Shahs, and the sun on the lower triangle represents the Rana dynasty. According to others, the sun and the moon are said to be representative of the country’s two major religions, namely, Hinduism and Buddhism. Still others believe that the sun depicts the bravery of the Nepali people, while the moon depicts their serenity and peace loving nature. As far as the colors are concerned, most people agree that red stands for bravery and victory, while blue stands for peace.
However you look at it, the Nepali flag, which was officially adopted in its present form on December 16, 1962 (before that, the sun and the moon were portrayed as faces), carries a lot of symbolism, and various facets may have different meanings for different individuals. At the same time, the Nepali flag, like other flags, is a symbol of unity. That it has a distinctive identity all its own makes it all the more significant. In a field of mostly colorful rectangles, the two-triangled flag of Nepal stands out prominently. Now, we also know that it is the most mathematically constructed, and this is a record in itself. So what if we couldn’t keep our record for making the world’s largest flag?