Saffron marigold is the colour of sacrifice

The ubiquitous marigold will be the symbol of India’s sacrifices when the world marks the centenary of the end of the First World War on November 11.

“It was felt that there was a strong need for India to have a uniquely Indian symbol that could allow citizens in India, as well as the international diaspora, to acknowledge the valour and sacrifice of the Indian armed forces in the service of the nation, including those who fell in the two world wars,” said Sqn. Ldr. Rana T.S. Chhina (retd.), Secretary, Centre For Armed Forces Historical Research at the United Service Institution of India (USI).

In line with this, the ‘India Remembers’ project initiated by the USI proposed that the marigold flower join the poppy as a uniquely Indian symbol of remembrance.

Why was it chosen?

“The marigold was chosen because it is easily and widely available and also because saffron is often seen as a colour of sacrifice,” Sqn. Ldr. Chhina added.

The India Remembers project is a joint endeavour of the USI and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and a part of the ‘India and the Great War’ Centenary Commemoration project initiated by the USI in 2014 with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and in close association with the British High Commission.


Widely promoted

The proposal was put up in 2016 and since then, the marigold has been widely promoted in all India-related commemorative events around the world. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge laid a marigold wreath at India Gate during their India visit in April 2016.

Since then, the marigold has also been used across the UK, along with the poppy, as part of community engagement projects that seek to highlight India’s contribution in the First World War, a diplomatic source said. Similarly, the Great War Indian War Memorial to be inaugurated at Villers-Guislain in France has a bronze marigold wreath as an integral part of its design.

The First World War ended with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. Since then, poppy was adopted as the symbol of remembrance as it grew widely in the Flanders fields in Europe where some of the major battles were fought. In India, the India Gate was built as the focal point to the Remembrance with the names of over 72,000 soldiers inscribed over it.

The government and the Army have to formally adopt the marigold to make it an official effort.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 7:24:45 PM |

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