Prayer Flag - Symbolism and Tradition

Symbolism and Tradition

Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

By hanging flags in high places the Lung ta will carry the blessings depicted on the flags to all beings. As wind passes over the surface of the flags, which are sensitive to the slightest movement of the wind, the air is purified and sanctified by the mantras.

The prayers of a flag become a permanent part of the universe as the images fade from exposure to the elements. Just as life moves on and is replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by continually mounting new flags alongside the old. This act symbolizes a welcoming of life's changes and an acknowledgment that all beings are part of a greater ongoing cycle.

Because the symbols and mantras on prayer flags are sacred, they should be treated with respect. They should not be placed on the ground or used on clothing. Old prayer flags should be burned.

  • Prayer flags at Swayambunath, Kathmandu.

  • A Darchor prayer flag in northern India.

  • Close-up of a Lung ta ("Wind Horse") prayer flag, Ladakh, India.

  • Prayer flags connect the two peaks of the Peak of Victory over Leh, Ladakh, India. The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa can be seen on the other peak.

Read more about this topic:  Prayer Flag

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