LUNGTA _ PRAYER FLAGS
In the windy Himalayas, colorful suspended pieces of fabrics can be seen. Upon closer inspection, one finds them to be Tibetan prayer flags and pennants, made of materials such as cotton, linen and silk. These banners are everywhere to be seen, such as hanging above houses, or in between the roofs, on the streets, bridges, trees and mountain peaks, and contain printed prayers, verses, pictures of horses and Buddha figures. As the wind powerfully blows, these resound magnificently as they wave about.
When trying to trace back the origins of the now widespread habit of hanging prayer flags, oral accounts present different legendary stories.
One of these narrates how a Tibetan Buddhist monk traveled back from India bringing along an important and sacred set of scriptures. As he traversed the river, the pages got wet. He then spread its wet pages under a tree in order to have them dry. He sat for meditation with his eyes closed, when a strong wind blew and carried a sheet brought from heaven. Oddly enough, it did not matter. The remaining sheets were carried away and spread freely to bless all the directions. From then onwards, Buddhist monks began to entrust their prayers and wishes on the form of prayer flags, and this method became well accepted by the people of their country.
In fact, few things are more beautiful than the colorful prayer flags fluttering sometimes subtly, other times furiously under the power of the wind, in a dancing display of light and shadows. This is considered as one of the most effective ways of blessings all beings and environment: by using the strength of the wind. The wind reaches all and touches all beings - humans, animals, insects, and even creatures who are invisible to the human eyes.
The wind that has touched the prayer flags is blessed and has the quality of spreading success and happiness. Just like a drop of water integrated into the ocean, the prayers are also initially printed on the flags, and will be diffused by the ever-blowing wind.
The printed symbol containing the prayers is named ‘Lungta’, meaning wind-horse, indicating that, just like a strong and fast horse, under the quick action of wind element, faith and prayers distribute strength and stamina to all beings.
Each of the prayer flags’ colors corresponds to different elements. Blue symbolizes the sky and space element; white, water and the clouds in the sky; red, fire; yellow, earth; and green, the wind and thoughts, since the mind is ultimately pointed as the ground which serves as the basis for the existence of ourselves and society as all. (Author: Tenzin)