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Tamil (Sri Lanka)

Tamil Eelam

Last modified: 2006-03-18 by rob raeside
Keywords: sri lanka | tamil | sun | tamil eelam | tiger | guns |
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[Tamil] image by Željko Heimer

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The flag is red with a golden rising sun with nine sunrays.
Željko Heimer, 15 May 1996

Tamil Tigers

[Tamil Tigers] image by Marcus Wendel

According to, the Tamil Tiger flag is the national flag of Tamil Eelam. It was adopted on 27 November 1990, the second national heroes day. The tiger was chosen by the Tamil Tiger leader as the national symbol because of it's historically deep roots in Dravida civilisation. It was chosen to illustrate the heroism of Tamils. The tiger also symbolises the characteristics desired in the freedom fighters of the Tamil Tiger movement, that is bravery, fearless heroism, an ambitioin of freedom, agility and agression.

The yellow in the flag was is seen as reflecting the belief that the fight for liberation and self-government is based on humanity and human honesty. The red colour stands for equality, fairness and social justice - the ideal complete liberation of the Tamil people beyond self-government. The black in the flag stresses the death, destruction and other hardships involved in the fight for freedom.

In the centre of the flag, the freedom struggle is compared with a jumping tiger, with the head and legs of a tiger representing aggressiveness, and the surrounding rounds of ammunition and knives express that the freedom struggle is armed.
Collected by Dov Gutterman, 7 July 2000 Summarised by Jonathan Dixon

An extensive article about the Tamil Tiger flag is carried on the Asian Tribune, dated 15 January [2006].
Ron Lahav, 27 January 2006

Some salient points from the article in the Asian Tribune include:

  • The leaping tiger flag is described as the "symbol of tomorrow’s independent Tamil Eelam".
  • The flag should be flown at embassies of Tamil Eelam.
  • The Tiger flag was created by Vellupillai Prabakaran and became the flag of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from 1977. In 1990, the letters on the flag were removed and declared as the National Flag of Tamil Eelam by the LTTE Leader. On November 21st 1990, on the commencement LTTE’s second heroes day week, for the first time, the flag was hoisted as the National Flag of Tamil Eelam by Prabakaran at one of his base in Vanni.
  • The symbol of Tiger points to heroes and their faith.
  • The colors of the flag are yellow (gold) signifying that the Tamil nation will always uphold Dharma, red denoting the aim to establish such a society in which all its members enjoy equal rights, equal opportunities and equal justice, and black which signifies that the path to freedom is hard and rough; it is full of unbearable pain, death and destruction.
  • "Karthigaipoo" or Gloriosa Lily (Botanical name - Liliaceae Glory lily or Gloriosa superba), which contains the colours contained in the Tamil Eelam national flag and which in November, the month of Heroes day celebrations, ubiquitously spreads, sprouts new shoots and blooms throughout the Northeast, has been proclaimed the official national flower of Eelam Tamils.

Ian MacDonald, 15 March 2006

Other banners or flags

There was a photo yesterday on Reuters, but it's gone now. It was of a road in Sri Lanka lined with flags in the Tamil colors twice as wide as long, red over yellow, commemorating the anniversary of the first Tamil Tiger suicide bombing. The flagpoles were also painted in these colors banded - I wonder if this flagpole coloring is unique. I'm not sure if some might count these as banners or something - I don't know their official status - but they certainly flew as flags.
Richard Knipel, 6 July 2004