Tibetan Buddhist Prayer flags

Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags and banners bear auspicious Buddhist symbols, deities and protectors, invocations, prayers and other mantras. Tibetan Buddhists for centuries have been hoisting prayer flags with a very strong devotion and belief that the sacred flags thus hoisted will bring the hoister and those in vicinity good fortune, happiness, peace, good health, long life, and prosperity.

Prayer flags are generally hoisted on high places like hilltops, mountains, roof, and outside of a house. It is believed that hoisting flags on such places enable the wind to carry the blessings to the surroundings and vicinities. These dharma banners and flags can also be placed inside a house to enhance the spiritual atmosphere.

“A riderless horse speeds tirelessly across the heavens, carrying an auspicious faceted jewel that radiates peace and harmony. The snapping of prayer flags in the wind evokes the sound of hooves of the Windhorse (Lung-ta) galloping in the sky, riding the breezes and carrying prayers to the universe to benefit all sentient beings.”

All flags are printed from hand-carved woodblocks in the traditional manner on high-quality cotton fabric using eco-friendly textile inks. woodblocks are hand-carved in the mountain villages of Yolmo, Solukhumbu and some part of Tibet by skilled master-carvers, nuns, and monks. Prayer flags are based on centuries-old genuine holy scriptures and texts and the design concept implemented as specified by great masters and learned scholars. The English prayer flags and banners are often silk-screened on 100 % quality cotton and hence have very sharp, crisp and fine prints.

Tibetan prayer flags can be of any of these 5 colors: blue, white, red, green, and yellow, which symbolize the sky, clouds, fire, water, and earth respectively. If we relate these colors to the physical elements then the blue symbolizes water, green symbolizes wood, red fire, and white iron. There is also a tradition of flying flags which represent the elements of your own body.

Flags are flown on auspicious days such as Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and when the stars are inauspicious arrangements according to Tibetan almanac. Flags are flown by families from all economic backgrounds, and they are flown on such important occasions as the third day of the Tibetan New Year, marriages, and official functions. Flags are also hosted in the event of interferences, or illness, in order to avert further misfortunes. According to the Tibetan calendar, there are certain inauspicious days when prayer flags should NOT be raised; raising flags on such black days (wrong astrological dates) will instead result in continuous obstacles and bad lucks to the holster. But there are Pujas which naturalizes the negative results and brings in the positive results and/or benefits of hoisting the flags. For more information, please click “Inauspicious Days”.

Prayer flags are usually left to wear out and disintegrate in the weather. Tibetan Buddhists consider such fading and wearing out of flags as prayers being accepted by heavens and deities, and instead of changing such flags, it is a tradition put on new flags. Since prayer flags and other dharma banners are inscribed with prayers, mantras, sutras, auspicious symbols, images of divine creatures and Buddhist deities, they are highly sacred and holy and hence they need to be treated with great respect. To dispose of flags, please burn them with due respect.

About sadiksha

Namaste! I am a Nepali Art Dealer specialized in Mandala and Thangka paintings. I love to write articles about the monastic culture of the Himalayas. If you like this post or have any question please leave me a comment or use the contact page to reach me.

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