Emblems are symbols that represent ideas, beliefs, organizations, or states. They are often used as a visual representation of a concept, often to identify and differentiate one group from another. Common examples of emblems include flags, coats of arms, logos, and mascots.
The earliest known use of emblems dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, where symbols were used to represent deities, kings, and cities. The use of symbols and emblems to signify power and authority is an ancient practice that can be seen in many cultures throughout the world. The Romans were particularly adept at using emblems to identify and differentiate between different groups, and they are credited with introducing the use of heraldry in Europe. The Romans used emblems to signify different political, military, and religious groups, as well as to mark locations and boundaries. The use of symbols and emblems to signify power and authority quickly spread throughout Europe and the world.
Representation of Emblems in Nepal’s Constitutions
Nepal had its own unique symbols and emblems way before the Rana dynasty. Nepal mentioned the word “Emblem” in the 4th constitution which was called Nepal ko Sambidhan, 2019 BS (Constitution of Nepal 1962). Part 1, section 5 of that constitution mentioned the word emblem. The recent constitution of Nepal from 2072 BS (2015) also mentions the same thing-
“The national flag of Nepal consists of two juxtaposed triangular figures with a crimson-colored base and deep blue borders, there is a white emblem of the crescent moon with eight rays visible out of sixteen in the upper part and a white emblem of a twelve rayed sun in the lower part.”
If we go with the literary term our constitution is calling the moon and the sun emblems. The emblems are the symbols that represent signify ideas, beliefs, organizations, or countries, conveying a message of their uniqueness. So here is an overview of the national emblems/symbols of Nepal.
The national flag of Nepal is declared in Schedule-1 (Relating to clause (2) of Article 8) of the Constitution of Nepal. This Schedule mentioned the flag’s picture and the whole instruction method of making the National Flag of Nepal. There is a description of the method of making the shape inside the border, the method of making the moon, the method of making the sun, method of making the border. And last, there is note bene which states that- “The size of the National Flag of Nepal shall be as determined by the Government of Nepal.”
Nepal’s national flag is a crimson red, double pennon with a blue border, and features the moon and sun symbols. It is the world’s only non-quadrilateral national flag. It contains the moon and the sun on two triangles that are vertically placed on each other. The two triangles of the Nepali Flag symbolize both the Himalayan mountains and the harmony between Hinduism and Buddhism, two major religions that have been intertwined for centuries.
This current flag of Nepal was adopted in 2019 Mangshir 1 BS (16 December 1962) replacing the flag which had a different emblem than the present one. The current flag design was the result of a competition held by the government of Nepal to choose a new flag design. In addition to its importance, the Nepali flag has a set of rules and guidelines for its display and use. For example, it is disrespectful to use the flag for any commercial purposes, and it should be flown at half-mast except on occasions of national mourning.
The national anthem of Nepal is called सयौँ थुँगा फूलका (Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka). The lyrics were written by Byakul Maila (Pradeep Kumar Rai), and the music was composed by Ambar Gurung and the anthem is sung in the Nepali language. The Constitution of Nepal’s Schedule-2 (Relating to clause (1) of Article 9) has declared the National Anthem of Nepal.
“Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka Hami Eutai Mala Nepali
Sarvavhaum Vai Failiyeka Mechi Mahakali
Prakitika Koti Koti Sampada Ko Aanchala
Bir Haruka Ragata Le Swatantra Ra Atala
Gyana Bhumi Shanti Bhumi Terai Pahad Himala
Akhanda Yo Pyaro Hamro Matri Bhumi Nepal
Bahul Jati Bhasa Dharma Sanskriti Chan Bishala
Agragami Rastra Hamro Jaya Jaya Nepal.”
This national anthem describes unity, geographical diversity, natural resources, brave ancestors, the land of peace, the motherland’s sovereignty, ethnic/linguistic/social diversity, and praise to the leading state of Nepal as a national pride. The anthem is full of patriotism and respect towards the nation and the nationals.
This national anthem was brought into practice in 2063 Jestha 15 BS (19 May 2006) by replacing the erstwhile national anthem श्रीमान् गम्भीर… (Shriman Gambhira…”). The anthem that sang the glory of the ruling King and the Kingdom of Nepal was written by Chakrapani Chalise and the music was composed by Bakhat Bahadur Budhapirthi (grandfather of musician Louis Banks) in 2026 BS (1962). When the contemporary king Gyanendra Shah was abdicated in 2065 BS (2008) the 204-year-old Shah monarchy came to an end and so did the era of Shriman Gambhira…
Coat of Arm
The Coat of Arms is the national logo of Nepal. The Constitution of Nepal’s Schedule-3 (Relating to clause (2) of Article 9) has mentioned the design of this logo. And in the note bene, it states that “This Coat of Arms may be made in a larger or smaller size as per necessity. The color determined by the Government of Nepal shall be used on it.” This logo is for the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and is used by the government of Nepal officials and all government agencies.
The coat of arms of Nepal contains the country’s flag at the top and there is a representation of Mount Everest. Green hills signify the hilly regions and yellow rice crops represent the Terai region’s fertility. Male and female hands clasping together to represent gender equality, a wreath of Rhododendron (the national flower, known as Lali-Guraash in Nepali), and a white silhouette of Nepal itself at the top. There is the red ribbon at the bottom in which जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी (Janani janmabhumisha svargadapi gariyasi) is written. literally, “The mother and the motherland are greater than heaven“. This line has not been changed since the first Coat of arms of Nepal.
It was adopted on 2065 Jestha 15 BS (28 May 2008) and it was modified in 2076 BS (2020). The design was chosen through a selection process involving ten designers who were presented to the Cabinet. The final design, created by Iaan Bekker, was chosen. The coat of arms has since been modernized with the new design.
There were several Coats of arms used at different times in Nepal’s history. Nepal declared a coat of arms as a national symbol for the first time in the constitution in 2019 BS (1962) following the adoption of a new constitution. That included a blue and crimson design, with a moon and sun at the top, crossed national flags in the center, and a garland of rhododendrons and a national banner at the bottom. The crest featured a pair of Khukuris, the Gurkha knives crossed across with another pair of national flags between a crescent and a sun, with the footprints of Sri 108 Gorakhnath in the chief. The crown was the Royal Nepali crown, and the garland consists of two branches of flowering rhododendrons. There was a Nepali soldier on the right and an ancient Nepali huntsman on the left, and the motto was the जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी written in Devanagari script on a red ribbon.
There were symbols of Nepal called the coat of arms before the 2019 BS too. The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Nepal from 1935 and other coats of arms did not get their place in the constitutions of that time. The coat of arms was used to represent the monarchy, while the emblem is a symbol of the nation and its citizens.
National Motto in the Coat of Arms
“जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपी गरीयसी” (jananī janmabhūmiśca svargādapi garīyasī) as aforementioned is written in the national logo as a national motto of Nepal. It was adopted on 2065 Jestha 15 BS (28 May 2008). The literal translation of the motto in English is “Mother and Motherland are greater than heaven.” The motto has deep historical and cultural significance in Nepal.
This phrase is the one line verse from Hindu epic Ramayana. The full Sanskrit shloka is-
अपि स्वर्णमयी लंका न मे लक्ष्मण रोचते । जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी ।।
It is the line recited by Lord Ram (A Hindu mythological character who is considered one of the 10 reincarnations of lord Vishnu) when his younger brother Lakshmana wanted to stay in the Lanka Kingdom (modern-day Sri Lanka) after defeating the Lanka King Ravana in an epic war. The verse means, “O Lakshman, even though Lanka is a golden land, it does not appeal to me. One’s mother and motherland are greater than heaven itself”.
The motto was first incorporated into Nepal’s coat of arms in 1935 BS during the reign of King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah. It was later included in the national flag of Nepal, which was adopted in 1962 BS. Since then, the national motto has become an important symbol of Nepal’s identity and cultural values.
Lali Gurans (Rhododendron)
The Constitution of Nepal (In Part-1, Article 9, Subsection 3), declares that “Lali Gurans shall be the national flower”.
Lali means red or crimson and Gurans is Rhododendron in Nepali, i.e. therefore Lali Gurans or the crimson rhododendron is the National flower of Nepal and was officially mentioned in the Constitution of 2019 BS (1962). The Constitution of Nepal (2072 BS) (In Part-1, Section 9, Subsection 3) also declared Lali Gurans as the National Flower of Nepal.
The flower’s association with Nepali dates back to the Rana dynasty, which ruled the country for 100 years in the mid-19th century. The Ranas adopted Lali Gurans as a symbol of the clan and were prominently featured in their coat of arms.
Rhododendron, in the 16th century, Charles l’Ecluse, known as Clusius, discovered the first Rhododendron and classified and named it as R. hirsutum. In 1656, when it was brought to Britain from the European Alps, R. hirsutum (the Alpine Rose) was the very first species of Rhododendron to be cultivated. The name “rhododendron” is derived from the Greek rhodo “rose” and dendron “tree”.
Lali Gurans grow in Nepal at altitudes as low as 1,200 meters and as high as 3,600 meters and there are more than 30 species, each of them in different sizes, and colors in Nepal. Besides being the national emblem of Nepal, this flower can also be used in traditional medicines and is also a popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks around the world. The flowers’ beauty and versatility have made them an important part of Nepal’s history, culture, and economy.
The Constitution of Nepal (In Part-1, Article 9, Subsection 3), declares that “Simrik shall be the national color”.
Simrik or crimson-red is an intense, bright, deep reddish-purple color, representing Nepal’s vibrant and diverse culture. The color is used in the national flag and the Coat of Arms. The Rhododendron of bright crimson red color is the National flower. The Simrik was adopted in the coat of arms before it was officially declared as the national color. The bright crimson color represents bravery and strength, qualities that are highly valued in Nepalese culture.
Like every other emblem the decision to adopt Simrik as the national color of Nepal was made by the same Constitution of 2019 BS (1962 AD).
The Constitution of Nepal (In Part-1, Article 9, Subsection 3), declares that “Cow shall be the national animal”.
The constitution of 1959 AD also declared it as the national animal of Nepal when Nepal was the Himalayan Kingdom. When the monarchy era came to end in 2065 BS (2008), the new constitution of 2075 BS (2015) also adopted the cow as the National animal of Nepal.
A cow has been Nepal’s household animal since time immemorial and is also considered the most sacred animal among Hindus of Nepal. The animal is prominently featured in the 2 Rupee bill also widely in art and literature too.
The Constitution of Nepal (In Part-1, Article 9, Subsection 3), declares that “Danphe shall be the national bird of Nepal.”
Danphe, the national bird of Nepal is also known as Lophophorus, Himalayan Monal, or the Impeyan pheasant. It is a strikingly beautiful bird that is found in the high altitude of Nepal and the multi-color body of Danphe is believed to reflect the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-culture of the Nepali community.