In India, People felt a collective belonging because they had participated together in freedom struggles against the common aggressor, the British.
Common folklore, song, popular pictures and symbols also helped in solidifying unity and the spirit of nationalism. The image of Bharat Mata was first created by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. He also wrote our national song ‘Vande Mataram’.
Later, Abanindra Nath Tagore created the famous image of Bharat Mata as an ascetic figure wearing saffron coloured clothes and carrying chain of beads cloth, palm leaves and scriptures in her hands.
The portrayal of Bharat Mata also underwent a lot of changes. In the 1905, painting by Abhanindranath tagore Bharat Mata is not portrayed as an ascetic. She is holding a flag and standing beside an Elephant and Lion both of which are symbols of power and authority.
Revival of the Indian folklore was another process which contributed greatly to the growth of Nationalism. In the late 19th century, the nationalists began gathering the folk tales. The Indian tricoloured flag with red, green and yellow colour was first designed during the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal.
In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi redesigned the Indian flag with the spinning wheel or Charka at the centre. This flag was often used by nationalists during protests and marches. The growth of nationalism also happened through the process of reinterpretation of history.
The Indians began exploring glories from their past and wrote about the ancient times when India was much developed. They saw the Colonial British era an opposition to the Golden years of the past.
The glories of the past and the symbols used by nationalists such as Bharat Mata were all very Hindu in nature. Consequently, people of other religions and communities felt alienated.