Prayer Flags

A prayer flag is a colorful panel of 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. Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, 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

The Indian Sutras, written on cloth in India, were transmitted to other regions of the world. These sutras, written on banners, were the origin of prayer flags. Legend ascribes the origin of the prayer flag to the Shakyamuni Buddha, whose prayers were written on battle flags used by the devas against their adversaries, the asuras. The legend may have given the Indian bhikku a reason for carrying the heavenly banner as a way of signifying his commitment to ahimsa. This knowledge was carried into Tibet by 800 CE, and the actual flags were introduced no later than 1040 CE, where they were further modified

Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five, one in each of five colors. The five colors represent the elements, and the Five Pure Lights and are arranged from left to right in specific order: blue, white, red, green, and then yellow. Different elements are associated with different colors for specific traditions, purposes and sadhana. Blue symbolizes sky/space, white symbolizes water, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes air/wind, and yellow symbolizes earth. According to Traditional Tibetan medicine, health and harmony are produced through the balance of the five elements

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