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What are Tibetan Prayer Flags?

Posted by Biva Poudyal on

A colorful sheet of cloth hanging and moving in the direction of the wind fascinates most of us. These colorful flags are known as prayer flags. As the name suggests, prayer flag are the flags on which prayer are inscribed. The Tibetan prayer flags contain 5 different colors and they are red, white, blue, yellow and green. These five colors represent the elements. Blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.

Tibetan Prayer flags are of two types and they are vertical and horizontal prayer flags.  Vertical ones (Darchor) are rectangular cloth attached to the poles along their vertical lines. Horizontal flags are known as Lung Ta and they are rectangular or square cloth connected along their top edges to a long thread. They are hung in a diagonal line between two objects.

It is believed that Tibetan prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. Each flag symbolize an element and has a deep meaning.  One of the most important flag in Tibetan Buddhism is Windhorse Prayer flag. In Tibetan Buddhism, Wind Horse is regarded as a symbol of the idea of well-being or good fortune. Tibetan Windhorse Prayer Flag has a picture of windhorse drawn in the middle of the prayer flags surrounded by its associate mantras. It is believed that windhorse prayer flag carries enormous power in the lives of all beings who come into contact with the wind of goodness.

The most respected mantra in Tibetan Buddhism is Om Mani Padme Hum. Om mani mantra inscribed Tibetan prayer flags are very common and popular. Tibetan Prayer flags are given a huge respect because they are the ritual objects and that is a reason why they are hung high above the roof with a belief that prayers are carried by the winds.  The prayer flags printed with deities Padhmasambhava, Chenrezig, Medicine Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha are equally admired where each associative mantra are printed along with picture of deities. The main mantras are of Padmasambhava, Avalokitesvara and Manjushree.

Tibetan Prayer flags in Nepal are handmade with traditional block print method. A wooden block is used where all the associate mantras and deities are hand carved and then use ink to print on a piece of cloth. Another method of printing prayer flags are screen print techniques which are usually more clear and detailed.

There are some of the dates which are regarded as inauspicious to hang a Tibetan prayer flags. These dates are given according to the Tibetan calendar. Hanging a flag on the given inauspicious days can cause negative impact on lives.

Tibetan Prayer Flags are popular around the world and everyone knows its importance. Using the prayer flag according to the Tibetan Buddhism and with good intention always brings positive impact in everyone’s life.

prayer flags, tibetan prayer flags


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