Waving Flags

A behind-the-flags look at how our symbol of Independence is made.

Waving Flags
Waving Flags

Sri Lankans feel true patriotism this month because we celebrate Independence Day on February 4. National flags can be seen flying high in all buildings and homes around the country.

Flag makers have to double up in order to cater to the increasing demand, their workshops full of silken mounds, their lunch hours shorter. This is particularly the case for reputed flag makers like Deepika Hemamali, a veteran whose hands have fashioned all types of flags for 30 years.

We visited Deepika at Dematagoda. Though miniscule, her shop is a landmark by itself on the Baseline Road, particularly because every Vesak full moon day they display the biggest Buddhist flag in the country, towering over the midnight traffic. In anticipation of Independence Day, by beginning of January the sewing machines in the small room have to start whirring. The flags completely cover the floors of the workshop, like pools of coloured satin everywhere. Lions with swords imprinted on rolls of satin wait patiently to be cut and made into neat individual flags. All flags are beautifully finished with a smart flagstaff. After half an hour’s acquaintance in her workshop, one starts to believe that hers is a worthy, charmed profession: to be such an integral part of the nation’s jubilations; to have the happiness of knowing their handiwork is spreading patriotism and national pride everywhere across the Island and beyond.

Be sure to take part in the spirit and hoist a national flag this Independence Day with honour and pride..