Tibetan prayer flag
Tibetan prayer flag is used to promote peace, compassion, and wisdom. As you arrive in Tibet, the first and foremost welcoming signs you would see in Tibet is a beautiful prayer flag. which we hang on our rooftop and the mountain pass. The flags are a very important cultural and religiously important to us. Tibetan prayer flags have inscriptions of auspicious symbols, Invocation, Sutra, and Mantras. This inscription believes in producing a spiritual vibration that is activated on the touch of the wind and carried on to the high distance. Whoever will be touch by the wind will get uplifted and become a little happier. Because these small prayers dissolved in the wind and extend to all space and benefit the entire sentence being.
The tradition of Prayer flags has a long and continuous history back to ancient India, Tibet, Persia, and China. Hence this tradition is now becoming very important for the mountaineering communities and Neo Buddhist around the globe. The meaning of the script on the prayer flag and symbols are indeed base on the most profound Buddhist philosophy.
The word for prayer flag in Tibetan is Dhar Cho, Dhar means increase, Increase of life, fortune, health and wealth. and Cho means all the sentient being. This simple device co-related the wind energy, harmonize the environment and bring happiness and prosperity to all the living.
History of Tibetan prayer flag
There are many concepts about how Tibetan prayer flag come into existence, some says the customs of prayer flags come from Nepal, there are other who says it dates back to Buddha times and many Tibetan scholars believe the culture of Tibetan prayer flags is homegrown during the pre-Buddhist era.
Here is some theory we firmly believe. One approach says legend ascribes the origin of prayer flags to Buddha himself, his prayer written on battle flags used by the devas against their adversaries. This tradition is later introduced in Tibet in 1040 with further modifications.
According to many Tibetan scholars, the origin of Prayer flags dates back the pre-Buddhist era. The Bon priest would use five color flags for healing ceremonies. each color is the representation of the different elements; space, air, fire, earth and water, the fundamental building blocks of nature.
Colored flags help to appease the local gods and spirits of steams, lake, valley and mountain. When provoked there elemental beings were thought to cause natural disasters and illness. Therefore balancing the outer elements and propitiating the elemental spirits with offering and rituals is the Bonpo way of calming the nature and invoking the blessing of the gods.
During the 8th century, Tibetan king invites guru Padmasambhava to Tibet for control the spiritual force preventing the spread to the new religion to Tibet. He bound the local spirits into the oath to become the protector deity to help spread and maintain Buddhism to the land of Tibet. He writes many of the Prayer as we use now.
Tibetan Prayer flag meaning:
These Tibetan Prayer flags are raised to spread the blessing and to prevent the misfortunes. They are different types of prayer flags for different Buddhas and gods.
The Prayer flags Types.
Tibetan prayer flags can be categories into two dozen types; half dozen of which comprise prayer flags we see nowadays.
(lung Ta) is the most common kind of prayer flags, so much that many people think the word itself takes place and meaning prayer flag. The purpose is to raid the energy of the good fortune of the beings in the vicinity of the Prayer flag. In the middle of the flag, we have a pictural form of the wind horse carrying the three precious jewels. On the four corners of the flags are always guarded by the four great animals; the Garuda, Dragon, Tiger and the Snow Lion. The Text of the flags differ, the Victory banner sutra is the most popular.
Victorious Banner (the Sutra) is the most popular kind of prayer flag. This sutra is useful for overcoming obstacles and disturbances; Once Buddha Shakyamuni gave the sutra to Indra, the king of god realm. The prayer flag is displayed sutra along with symbol like wind horse, Auspicious signs, Possessions of Monarch and union of opposites. Special mantras are added too to increase harmony, health, wealth and good fortune.
Health and longevity flags:
This flag usually has a short version of Buddha’s long life sutra with mantra and prayer of long life and prayers. Amitayus, the Buddha of limitless life is in the center and other two long-life deities; white Tara and the Vijaya
The Wishi fulfilling prayer (Sampa Lhundrup):
Guru Padmasambhava wrote this prayer. It is relevant to this modern age, and it is suitable for protecting against war, famine, natural disaster, overcoming obstacles and swiftly attaining one’s wishes. This type of Flags has Guru Rinpoche in the center and repetitions of his mantra.
Praise to the 21 Taras:
Lord Atish translates this sutra in the 11th century. And the first of this prayer flag is attribute to him. This flag usually depicts Green Tara in the middle and conclude with her mantra. Spreading the compassionate blessing is the main purpose of the flag.
Other popular types of Tibetan prayer flags are; Avalokiteshvara – Bodhisattva of Compassion, The Warrior-King Gesar, The White Umbrella for Protection, the Kurukulle Power Flag, Manjushri- Embodiment of Wisdom, Milarepa – the Yogisaint, and the Vast Luck Flag.
How we make Prayer flag:
The crafts of Making making Tibetan prayer flags have changed along with the changes in technologies. Initially, Tibetan writes the prayer flags by the hand of the color clothes. Later with the introduction of wooden block printing. For many centuries, we print the prayer flags using the woodblock printing for more accuracy and durability.
The method of making Prayer flag using the wooden block is still a most preferred for it durability after posting it. But with the new development of easy screen printing, many of us often used Prayer flags printed using the screen printing.
After each flag is print, we will stitch together on a nylon rope for the longevity. The order of the prayer flag is; first the blue, white, red, green and yellow.
The travelers’ guide to Tibetan prayer flag:
It is one of the things to do in Tibet while you are in Tibet. So we have always ask my clients to buy some prayer flags and try to put it on the mountain pass and essential local like Mount Kailash and Mount Everest Base Camp. We hope you like my post about Tibetan prayer flags. if you do, Please do share and like this post. If you would like read more on topics related to Tibetan prayer flag, Tibetan religion and culture, click here and learn more about the Prayer flag on Wikipedia.
During your Tibet travel please do not forget to hand prayer flags in high mountain pass during your Tibet tour.
I-Tibet travel and Tours is fully committed to responsible and Sustainable tourism practice in Tibet. Our privilege to be able to host you in Tibet also makes our responsibility in protecting nature and contributing back communities.
As a Local Tibetan travel agency in Lhasa. Our staffs are 100% local Tibetan tourism professionals. Additionally, We only use local Tibetan guides, other tours crews, and local business. 100% of the travel money goes to locals. Besides, We use 3% of the net profit into Environmental and social initiatives.
Being Tibetan, We know how vital the Tibetan environment is for the entire world. Mountains, glacier, and rivers are all cherished in our culture. We do our best to reduce the environmental impact of your tours in Tibet.
Following are Our ways:
a) No Small plastic bottles in the tour
All the drinking water are provided in the bigger container. So all visitors are asked to bring his/her own water bottle. In this way, we reduce hundreds and thousands of small plastic bottles. All the bigger containers are provided back to the manufacturer for reuse.
b) Incentives for practice
Incentives are given to guide and drivers. Who follow our strict directories on ethical practice towards sustainable and responsible tourism practice.
c) Staff Training every winter
Winter is a low season in Tibet tourism. We provide skill training required for the practice of Responsible and Sustainable tourism practice, first Aids and emergency first responder training. One of our managers is certified Humanity Supply Chain management by fritz institute. We work closely with individuals from institute like Tibet Eco Travel initiatives and Local Tibet Red Cross society and other NGOs.
d) Tree Plantation
Some portion of the tour money are save for our 1000 Tree plantation project. We will plant trees when we will have enough funds.
e) Smaller group size
All our tours are a small group to reduce environmental Impact. Since traveling in a smaller group has less impact on committed in an area than a big group. Therefore all our tour groups are small.
f) Trekking tours and environmental care in the wilderness of Tibet
During your trekking Tours, you will be walking across a very fragile ecosystem. We do take extra care in our trekking tours preventing environmental effects. Following are how are take care of our environment our trekking tours.
1: We nothing leave mother behind.
We make sure we take all our rubbish and leave nothing behind.
2: We protect the grassland
A little destruction of Tibet’s fragile environment is irreversible. So, in the trekking tours, we will not make drainage surrounding your tent. Instead, we will provide trekkers with a better tent with bathtub style floors which prevent water from getting into the tent. We don’t put a small tent toilet. Even if we try to put the grass back, it is not the same. So when you are answering your nature called please enjoy the view.
3: Collecting the garbage along the way.
We have a saying in Tibet, “if you can’t help, don’t harm.” Here is our helping part. We always have extra yaks carrying the Garbages, our yak men will be collecting while waiting for the clients at the campsite. Yak man walks faster than all, and they have free time at the camp. While cook prepares for meals and drinks, We pay yaks men’s incentives in collecting the rubbish around the camp.
I-Tibet travel and tours, identify its self as a social enterprise. For this, we dedicate 3% of our annual net profit to Social and environmental projects. Every winter we buy winter clothes for small children and donate to schools. In this way, besides donating winter cloth, we are also encouraging them to go to school.
It is important to make our guest understand Local Culture, Beliefs, and Ethics. Hence it will make it more comfortable during Our special tour arrangements. Like, your home visit, culture programs, and our others.