Prayer Flags or Tibetan Prayer Flags are colorful rectangular cloth, usually seen on the Himalaya peaks and Gumbas. They are a symbol of religious beliefs to bless the pilgrimage sites and also for various other purposes. Prayer flags are supposed to have originated with Bon (Bon is a native pre-Buddhist religious tradition of Tibet). These traditional prayer flags have various woodblock-printed text and images in them.
The Tibetan Prayer Flags flutter free with the wind in the sky, and these flaps reflect the Buddhist culture. The Flags are considered to bring peace, prosperity, and goodwill. There are five colors of sequence in the Prayer Flags pattern, and these patterns must be consistent and not shuffled. The five colors are blue, white, red, green, and yellow, representing five different elements. The Blue color represents sky and space, White symbolizes air and wind, Red is fire, Green represents Water, and Yellow is for Earth. The balance among these five elements must be made in order to bring harmony and good health to our lives.
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Symbol and Images in the Prayer Flags
Each coloured prayer flag has an image of a wind horse having three significant jewels on its back. These three jewels have three symbols- the Buddha, His Teachings, and the Buddhist community. The scrips which surround the wind horse are different traditional mantras that adore various deities. The scripts on four corners represent the image of four strong animals- the Dragon, the Tiger, the Garuda, and the Snow lion. The four animals are known for their strength, capacity, and fury.
Hanging the Prayer Flags
Before hanging a prayer flag(s), one must have a selfless feeling and positivity thinking about raising the flags. In Sanskrit, there is a phrase ‘Yad Bhaavam Tad Bhavati’, which means ‘As is your inner thought, so is the manifestations’, which is why a strong feeling and motivation is required when hanging the flags.
People also hang the prayer flags on their own rooms, study tables, above the bed, or on the walls. Nowadays, we can also see people hanging the flags on bikes and cars. The presence of the flags brings the mind to peace and also purifies the thoughts.
Auspicious Time to Hang the Flags
Generally, Prayer Flags are hanged on two auspicious days- Monday and Friday. When the flags are hung on auspicious days, the benefits of the flags will expand more. When hung on full moon day or new moon day, there is more prosperity on the place.
There are 100 million times more benefits when hung on solar eclipse and 7 million times in lunar eclipse.
Inauspicious Time to Hang the Flags
Similarly, there are various times that are considered Inauspicious to hang the prayer flags. Certain days are considered to have possession of ‘Baden Senpo’, who is assumed to be the demon in Buddhist culture. So during this time, there is negative energy, and it brings negativity if flags are hung. So, specific calendars must be consulted to know the inauspicious dates to raise the flags. During these days, the prayer flags should not be hanged.
How to dispose of the Prayer Flags?
The symbols and scripts on the flags are sacred and should be admired. So the flags should not be thrown in trash or ground but must be burnt carefully with respectful feelings. Even when burning, the flags should not touch the ground.
The Flags can fade and disintegrate naturally. So, the old faded flags are replaced by new ones. So the central teaching of Buddha, Impermanence(means; nothing is ever permanent), plays a great significance here.
Bring Down the Prayer Flags
When you bring down the prayer flags, they should not be separated because the five elements’ balance must remain steady until they are disposed of.
The Tibetan prayer flags are considered to spread the prayers and mantras wherever the wind from the flags blows. With the slightest movement of flags, the air near them is purified.