A prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside, to bless friends and family and for other purposes.
The five colors are arranged from left to right in a specific order: blue, white, red, green, and yellow. The five colors represent the five elements and the Five Pure Lights. Different elements are associated with different colors for specific traditions, purposes and sadhana. Blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth. According to Traditional Tibetan medicine, health and harmony are produced through the balance of the five elements.
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.
According to traditional belief, 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.
The edges of prayer flags should not be finished (sewn), but should be a bit tattered (even a brand new flag should have a bit of fraying on the flag edges). This allows the prayer to be taken easily by the wind.
These prayer flags measure approx 6" x 4" (ea flag) and there are 10 flags on the string. Total length from first flag to last flag is approx 4 3/4'.
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