Flags fly in our hearts

Dhaka Calling
Muhammad Ali Sattar

Thursday, June 12, 2014 - AS the FIFA World Cup championship contest kicks off on the 12th, itís time to write a few lines about flags, sports and ever dominating politics that dares to smear sports these days.

Like, entertainment and glamour, politics and sport also make strange news. Add to it the bookies and their agents, going round the corridors and lavatories of the sportsmen, organizers and sponsors to get their betting right!

Amidst this clamor, the world is visited by the 20th edition of the World Cup tourney. Joy and enthusiasm knows no bound. The world is brimming with ecstasy, fear and excitement! There is no flat expression to illustrate the feeling. No one knows the complexion of the roller coaster ride that the earth is likely to take along with the teams fighting for the honor.

Along with gullible fans watching the clashes, omnipresent nexuses will be at work stashing away billions in bets and stakes!

The world cup wind is blowing very strong across Bangladesh as well. We donít know how things are shaping up in other places, we are sure that Bangladesh is set to greet the event with full heart and cheers!

As you move along the roads and streets, and in the alleys of cities and towns you will behold the flags and streamers of different countries flying high with smart look.

Clean and elegant pieces of cloths displaying the insignia of the country are fluttering in the breeze giving the sky line a grand look. This excitement is absent in any other contest. It happens only in these times that come every four years!

Indeed a great time!

But all is not very smooth about the flags! Donít we have reservation about flags in our country, even if it is on the wing at times of ongoing cricket of football matches?

Before we move on, letís find out about flags! People started using flags some 4000 years back. Authentic flag design of ancient peoples includes a metal flag from Iran, ca. 3000 BC, and reconstructions of vexilloids shown on ancient Greek coins, Egyptian tomb carvings, etc.

The first type of flag was called a vexilloid. Vexillology is the scientific study of flags. This word comes from a Latin word which means ďguideĒ. First flags or vexilloids were metal or wooden poles with carvings on top. About 2,000 years ago, pieces of fabric or material were added to some vexilloids for decoration. These looked more like the flags we know today.

Use of flags is of various nature and need. We have a range of symbols in the flags that carry different meanings and shows ideas. Apart from the national and global events flags are also used at the war fronts by soldiers. The history of battles and wars abounds with instances when the winning party would hoist their flags up in the skies of the occupied land! That perhaps is the strongest message given out to the world and the people about the emotion and sentiment attached with flags!

We also use flags on sad occasions. Flags are flown at half-mast to honor the dead, and draped over the coffins of national heroes. So flags mean a lot to the people of the world!

During celebrations and while expressing solidarity we have flags flown across the boundaries. When hearts meet flags do not matter! It is the people that embrace each other during the time of peace and friendship, and at good times!

In last ICC T20 World Cup championship a certain quarter in Dhaka raised the question of our patriotism and sovereignty when they raised hell over flying of Indian and Pakistani flags in the cricket stands.

It was a game of cricket, nothing else! We have our preferred teams, we have our favorite players in any team, and we can be enthusiastic about them! We can support a certain team (if Bangladesh is not paying in that particular game)! We as individuals cannot be dictated over our liking and support!

Soon after the objections were raised, the guards at the stadium entrance seized the miniature (and also big) flags from the supporters who toiled hard to get in to enjoy the proceedings of the day! Mind you they paid for their seats! Who cares!

Politics came into play. The twisted minds donít ever tire playing fool with peopleís sentiment!

Now why donít we hear objections about raising flags atop the households in every bend of the town? Bangladesh is thousand light years away from taking part in the finals of the World Cup tourney, but we are there in celebration!

The flags of Brazil, Argentina Germany and others are flying high, and no one seems to be bothered! The reason for this smugness could be that there are no Indian or Pakistani flags up in the air!

Lets learn to live in peace and harmony, at least when it comes to sports! Remember, there are trillions of sports fan around the world versus a few thousands of political activists.

In wars, flags are raised on ashes and bloods, in sports, flags fly in hearts!

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