The official description given for the flag was provided by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second Prime Minister of India, who said: "Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to the soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The "Ashoka Chakra" in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change."
The symbolism of the flag is so important that people go to great lengths to include it as part of their celebrations - most commonly by making their favourite recipes in orange, white, and green especially for the day's feast. My favourite, ridiculously simple but extra celebratory, recipe to honour Indian independence day is this one for Sandwich Pakoras, taken from my Indian Afternoon Tea recipe ebook. The colours are vibrant, the flavours are wonderful and best of all, it's quick and easy to prepare! :)
For the Filling
6 slices of bread
A block of paneer, sliced
Tomato and garlic chutney
Spicy coriander and mint chutney
For the Batter
150 g gram flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp yoghurt
100 ml water
Large pinch of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
Sunflower oil for deep-frying
Chaat masala and date and tamarind chutney to serve
- Start by laying three slices of bread down in front of you and spreading each with a spoon or two of tomato and garlic chutney.
- Layer the paneer on top of the chutney – be as generous as you like.
- Spread the coriander chutney on the remaining three slices of bread and press these on top of the paneer, chutney side down.
- Carefully cut each sandwich into quarters and leave aside while you prepare the batter.
- Mix the gram flour, salt, chilli powder, yoghurt, water, and coriander leaves together in a mixing bowl until smooth and with the consistency of thick cream.
- Heat up oil for deep frying in a pan placed over a medium-high setting.
- When the oil is suitably hot (drop in a breadcrumb and if it rises instantly you are good to go), slightly press down one of the sandwich triangles and dip it into the batter – be quick or the bread will turn soggy, but be thorough and ensure the sandwich is fully coated.
- Carefully place the sandwich into the hot oil and fry until golden on all sides. Fry as many sandwiches at a time as you feel comfortable with, or as many as will fit in your pan.
- Drain and transfer onto kitchen paper towels, sprinkle generously with chaat masala while the sandwich is still piping hot – this will ensure the masala sticks to the sandwich.
- Repeat until all of the sandwiches are fried, you can then cut each triangle in half again if you like so that the alternating colours on the inside are displayed.
- Serve hot with date and tamarind chutney.