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Indian Army Regimental Colours

Last modified: 2006-03-25 by ian macdonald
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Indian Army Regimental Colours

Indian regimental colors are similar to British ones (even down to the same measurements), with a solid field in the facing color and a badge on the center ensigned
with the three-lion badge of Ashoka (the national "arms"), and surrounded by a wreath of lotus blossoms and scrolls bearing battle honors.

Joe McMillan, 27 November 2005

The colours are in the facing colour except for those regiments with saffron facings (Rajput Regiment), who have colours in the tunic colour (red in this case), and those with white (Grenadiers) or black facings (Mahratta Light Infantry and Assam Regiment) who use that colour but with the addition of a red diagonal line from upper-hoist to lower fly. Regiments without Ashoka's lions in their badge, add it above the wreath, with the motto Satyameva Jayate, as here. Regiments who do not incorporate a regimental motto in their badge bear it, as here, across the bottom of the lotus blossom wreath. In the case of the Brigade of Guards, the (translated) motto is 'Ahead, always ahead'; in the case of the Kumaon Regiment, it is 'Where there is valour there is victory'. Unlike the British Army, rifle regiments were permitted to carry colours, but were given the option of not doing so, because of tradition. I think that all declined. Again, unlike the UK, corps (Engineers, Service Corps, etc) also carry colours.

Ian Sumner, 2 December 2005

Here is a sample Regimental Colour (Kumaon Regiment, formerly 19th Hyderabad Regiment):

Note that half of the battle honour scrolls are blank. I haven't studied this closely, but I suspect these are not-so-subtle place holders for British-era battle honours that the post-1947 Indian government deemed "repugnant" because they were for Indians fighting Indians. These battle honours are not allowed to be displayed, but  regiments still unofficially observe them. Blank scrolls would be one way of saying "we used to have more battle honours".

T.F. Mills, 29 November 2005

The Kumaon Regiment had five of its honours declared repugnant, but if my eyes do not deceive me, one of them (Burma 1885-87) is at the top of the right-hand column (it's not that I can read the script, you understand, but I think I can make out the date). Regiments were permitted to display ten pre-independence battle honours, and it is these that are shown in the picture. Post-independence honours are restricted to pure 'battle' honours, i.e. theatre honours (e.g. Jammu and Kashmir 1965) are not permitted to be displayed.

Unlikely as it might seem, I wonder if the blank scrolls are just there for balance. Sarban Singh's book 'Battle honours of the Indian Army 1757-1971' (New Delhi, Vision Books, 1993) has a picture on the cover of a colour of one of the battalions of the Brigade of Guards. In one column are ten scrolls with battle honours, in the other are nine scrolls with honours, and one without. The senior battalions of the Guards were all converted from existing line regiments, so there would be no shortage of honours to be displayed. So perhaps it is saying 'we could win a lot more'.

Ian Sumner, 2 December 2006