Tibetan prayer flags are pieces of cloth strung with rope. Written on each flag is a spiritual message that promotes strength, compassion, peace, and wisdom. Tibetans hang these flags outside because they believe that the wind will convey these spiritual messages to the world, which will ultimately bring goodwill and compassion to all living beings. Not only Buddhists hang these flags, but anyone can hang prayer flags outside. However, when you hang them, you need to follow some respectful and specific procedures.
History of the Prayer Flags
Sometimes back, Lord Buddha's teachings and prayers were printed on the battle flags and were used by deities against their adversaries. Then later, there were some modifications that shaped this flag prayer that we see presently. During the Cultural Revolution, it was mentioned to be discarded but was not eliminated totally. The rectangle-shaped, colorful cloth pieces, previously included prayer images and text from woodblock prints. Nowadays, a lot of traditional design has been lost.
Two Main Types Of Prayer Flags
Lung -ta which translates to "Wind Horse" in Tibetan. These Flags could be rectangular or square in shape. Moreover, these flags come are connected with thread and come in a set of five and hang horizontally. The Windhorse image is printed on the prayer flags center while in the corners you will find 4 Dignities: snow lion (fearless joy), tiger (confidence), dragon (gentle power), and garuda (wisdom). These prayer flags look beautiful in monasteries, stupas, temples, and mountain passes.
Dar Cho: translates as" to increase fortune, life, wealth and health to all sentient beings." These flags are made of one rectangular, large cloth that is hung on a pole (like a vertical banner) along the longest edge of the flag.
Prayer Flag And Its Purpose
The prayer flag and the Lungta or Windhorse image, symbolize the enormous power that defeats evil to tread the path towards freedom and liberation. To conquer the fear and break down all obstacles that are found on its way. As it dashes through the sky, blessings and prayers pour out for everybody on the word to benefit from. And therefore, Tibetan prayer flags are believed to promote prosperity, compassion, peace, and wisdom.
To be clear, the reason behind hanging Tibetan prayer flags is to spread blessings not only for us but also for other beings and people all over the world, up to the place, the spirit of the Lungta settles and reaches.
Color Symbolic Meaning
Everything right from the words to the color on the flags represents a certain meaning. The green, white, yellow, blue, and red Buddhist prayer flags usually represent elements such as earth, water, fire, and air. The white color represents air, Green is water, red is fire, blue is wind, and yellow is earth. They also represent directions- East, West, North, South, and center.
When to Hang Prayer Flags 2022
Auspicious Days For Hanging Prayer Flags
When you hang the prayer flag on astrologically inauspicious days, then it will bring constant obstacles rather than well-being. Provided that the flags last, then unfavorable conditions will appear. This will happen because there is a being that is called Baden in the Tibetan calendar, which is a demon from elemental spirits called nagas. When you hang the prayer flag when the Baden energy is active, it will bring negative results. Therefore, those days are inauspicious to hang the prayer flags. However, they do not affect the already hanging flags. Those can stay provided they are not damaged.
Luckily, Baden senpo are normally active in just a few days in a mouth. Depending on different astrological calculations, traditions of different monasteries may exist. These are the given dates that are in accordance with the Benchen calendar.
Water Tiger (2022/2023) inauspicious days for hanging prayer flags:
6 Jan 2022; 18 Jan; 30 Jan;
2 Feb 2022; 14 Feb; 26 Feb;
8 Apr; 20 Apr;
4 May; 17 May; 28 May; 31 May;
12 Jun; 23 Jun;
9 July; 20 July;
4 Aug; 15 Aug; 31 Aug;
11 Sep 23 Sep; 26 Sep;
7 Oct; 20 Oct;
3 Nov; 15 Nov; 30 Nov;
7 Jan 2023; 22 Jan;
3 Feb 2023; 15 Feb.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that according to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and other great lamas, the motivation that we have when hanging prayer flags is very important than the day when we hang the flag. The most essential thing is to express wishes and have purely good intentions.
Inauspicious Days For Hanging Prayer Flags
The following dates are inauspicious to hang prayers flags
Apr 8, 20
May 4, 17, 28, 31
Jun 11, 23
Jul 9, 20
Aug 4, 15, 31
Sep 11, 23, 26
Oct 7, 20
Nov 3, 15, 20
How to Bless Your Prayer Flags?
Set Your Intentions.
You can think of some reasons why you need to gang the flags. Consider what intentions and motivations you have for the spiritual messages and hanging the flag. Remember these intentions and motivations. Think about, meditate on, or say out loud your intentions and motivations as you hang the flags outside. Your intentions and motivations can be general or specific. For example, a general motivation can be that you want to send positive thoughts to all living beings whereas specific motivation can be you want to send blessings to a sick grandmother.
Write Wishes On Your Prayer Flags In Ink.
You can use a marker to write specific wishes or aspirations at the prayer flags back. These wishes or aspirations can include the name of the individuals to who you are sending best wishes. You can likewise write a general message that you want to send to the world.
Bless Your Prayer Flags With Smoke Purification.
Get incensed or sang to create smoke. Light it with a lighter or matches. Let it burn for a few minutes and then blow it out to create smoke. After that, bless the flags by moving them through the smoke. You can likewise move the incense alongside the flags.
How to Hang and Dispose of Prayer Flags
Prayer Flags Must Be Treated With Respect and Should Never Be Kept On The Ground.
Every time you are handing the prayer flags, hanging them, writing messages on them, disposing of them, or taking them down, you should not allow them to touch the ground. Each and every flag has spiritual symbols and sacred texts which must be treated with respect. Whenever you are disposing of the prayer flags, you should not place them in the garbage.
Keep Your Prayer Flags In Right Color Order.
You require to hang the flag in groups of five in the right color order (blue, white, red, green, and yellow). The prayer flags usually come in groups of five following this order and you should never rearrange or separate them. Therefore, you must have flags in multiple of five, for example, you can hang five flags, ten flags, fifteen flags, and more. Never hang prayer flags that are less than five flags or 7 flags, 13 flags, etc.
Choose A Sunny And Windy Day.
On the calendar, create a list of auspicious days that you want to hang your flags. After that, check the weather forecast for the days you have selected. Look for days that are forecasted to be windy and sunny, not calm or overcast. Choose one of the auspicious days that meet the weather principles and then hang the flags. In case the weather is not windy or sunny, then cancel that day and wait for another auspicious day that has proper weather.
Hang Your Prayer Flags Between Two Structures Outside.
Choose an area outside where there is a flow of breeze to blow the frag. This location can be alongside a structure or between two structures that would enable wind through. Tie several groups of prayer flags with a double knot. In case you are hanging several sets of flags. Then you can tie one end of the rope to one structure and the other end to another structure. For better visualization, the flags should be like a banner or clothesline once hung up.
Color Fading From The Prayer Flags Is Considered Auspicious.
You can leave the prayer flags hanging up indefinitely. The outside elements such as snow, rain, sun, and wind will naturally make the flag disintegrate and the fading of the spiritual messages. This disintegration and fading signify the message is traveling away from the flags and is sent to the world. You are free to hang another new flag near old prayer flags. Remember, flags made of synthetic materials fade more slowly than the ones made of cotton.
Bury Or Burn Your Old Prayer Flags If You Have To Take Them Down.
If you have to burn the old prayer flags whenever you take them down, you can use fire. If you do not have a fire, you can bury them in out-of-the-way areas. Make sure that the flag does not touch the ground until when you insert them into the dug hole.
Many people have a misconception about prayer flags to their demigods. Instead, Tibetans believe that these prayer flags blow and spread the mantras and prayers to all living beings. A slight movement of the flags purifies the air. Remember, the best time to put up new prayer flags is in the morning on sunny, windy days. Let's hang prayer flags for auspiciousness.