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Colour- & Meaningful: Prayerflags

Did you know that prayer flags originate in the Bon tradition, the ancient shamanic folk culture of Tibet? Bon predates the arrival of Buddhism and is the native religion characterised by worshopping nature and the ancestors.

Traditional prayer flags are made of colorful pieces of cloth and include woodblock-printed text and images. The flags are often found strung along trails and peaks high in the Himalayas – basically in high places where wind 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.

There is one legend that ascribes the origin of the prayer flag to Gautama Buddha, whose prayers were written on battle flags used by the devas against their adversaries, the asuras.

Prayer flags are used to bless the countryside and promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.

The center of a prayer flag traditionally features a Lung ta (powerful or strong horse) bearing three flaming jewels on its back. It is a symbol of speed and the transformation of bad fortune to good fortune.

In this picture you see a prayer flag in front of our yoga hall – with the most sacred of all mantras and sounds: ॐ (om)


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