SLA orders Tamil homage to lion flag
[TamilNet, Sunday, 23 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan army commander of the Punnaalaikadduvan area in Jaffna has instructed all school principals there to hoist the lion flag before prayers in the morning. The commander had observed that no school in the area flew the lion flag even on special occasions. The practice stopped more than two decades ago in Jaffna.
The lion insignia is Sri Lanka's national flag. Tamils protested vehemently when Sinhala parties adopted the lion flag as the national flag soon after the British relinquished their suzerainty over the island in 1948.
Opposition to the flag, since then, has been part of the Tamil movement for regional autonomy in Sri Lanka. The practice of hoisting the lion flag was secretly and openly shunned in most Tamil areas as the movement grew and became militant in character.
The lion is considered the symbol of the Sinhala people. The term Sinhala means 'people of the lion.The eponymous progenitor of the Sinhala people, according to their mytho-history, is a lion.
The story of the lion and the son and daughter he fathered through a princess whom he had abducted is taught in Sri Lankan schools as the country's official history. (The son kills his father, the lion, becomes king and marries his own sister. King Vijaya, the founder of the first Sinhala kingdom in Sri Lanka, was born of this union, according to the official history)
Currently one of the main objections of the Tamil parties in the Sri Lankan Parliament to the Sri Lankan government's devolution proposals is the article in it which clearly stipulates that the lion flag shall be the national flag.