Tibetan Prayer Flags
Tibetan Prayer Flags are colourful rectangular pieces of cloth that are hung high above roofs and mountain ridges. They are traditionally used to bless surroundings and also for writing prayers by individuals. The prayers on the flags are carried by wind to get them answered.
Legend says that the prayer flags were first introduced by the Gautama Buddha who wrote his prayers in battle flags. This tradition was carried to Tibet in 800CE with the actual flags introduced to Tibet in 1040 CE after which the flags were modified.
Tibetan Prayer Flags are traditionally used to promote peace, wisdom, strength and compassion.
Contrary to foreigners' belief, the prayers are not sent to the gods, rather they are sent to the prevailing environment. Once the colours on the flags have faded, it then means that the winds have carried the prayer and will go on to be answered.
Traditionally, it is best to hang the prayer flags in the morning time and also on sunny, windy days! Preferably during the Tibetan New Year amongst family and friends. It is believed that hanging the flags on unpromising astrological dates would bring negative results.
Old prayer flags are replaced with new flags annually on the Tibetan New Year.
The flags should never be kept still which is why they are hung high up so that they flit in the wind. They also shouldn't touch the ground as this is seen as disrespectful.
There are 2 types of Tibetan Prayer Flags. Horizontal Flags known as Lung Dar and Vertical Flags known as Dar cho. The colours used for the flags each have deep meanings, symbolising different elements.
White symbolises- Air
Red - Fire
These colours also represent different directions (North, East, South, West and Centre)
Receiving a Tibetan Prayer Flag as a gift from family and friends is perceived as good omen and it is better to receive them than to buy them, in Tibetan culture.