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 and for other purposes.
Prayer flags are believed to have originated with Bon, which predated Buddhism in Tibet.
In Bon, Shamanistic Bonpo used primary-colored plain flags in healing ceremonies in Nepal. They are unknown in other branches of Buddhism.
Prayer Flags are inscribed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers, and mantras.
Tibetan Buddhists for centuries have planted these flags outside their homes
and places of spiritual practice for the wind to carry
the beneficent vibrations across the countryside.
Prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter
and those in the vicinity.
Prayer flags, known locally as tarchok, form a ubiquitous part of the Ladakhi landscape.
Usually square or rectangular pieces of cloth,
they are believed to spread the prayers that are printed on them as they flutter in the wind.
The flags are invariably one of the five basic colors–
white, red, green, yellow and blue
and are representative of the five elements-
earth, air, water, fire and ether,
the five senses-
sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing,
and the five wisdoms-
the wisdom of the universal law,
the wisdom of the mirror,
the wisdom of equality,
the wisdom of distinction and discernment,
the wisdom of accomplishing works.
The three most prominent hangings seen in the interiors of the monasteries
are the chubar, galtszan and phen.
The phen is made of a solid shape from which four or more
narrow ribbon-like panels of silk are suspended.
The galtszen is a cylindrical hanging ornamented by valences and alternating plain panels.
The chubar, also a cylindrical hanging, is made of narrow overlapping vertical panels,
usually of brocade.
Buddhists added their own texts to increase the power of the flags.
There are ancient symbols, prayers and mantras for generating compassion, health, wish fulfillment, and for overcoming diseases, natural disasters and other obstacles.
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