Prayer flags and their meaning

You may have seen prayer flags on your travels or in photos. They are often placed outside temples, in the high mountains, across bridges, buildings and trees.

What is the significance of these prayer flags?

What do they mean?

Prayer flags are often hung at temple sites, on stupas ( a mount like structure often containing relics- and a place of meditation).

If you travel in the Himalayas – you will see prayer flags hung at mountain summits, mountain passes, bridges, as well as many other places along the way.

Prayer flags can be used in religious ceremonies or bring healing properties and blessings.

The prayer flags themselves usually consist of five colours.

These represents the Five elements.

Red- Fire.

White- Air.

Green- Water.

Blue- Space or Ether.

Yellow- Earth.

Drawings and prayers are often written (often in Tibetan) on the prayer flags.

There is much use of;


Mantras (sacred sounds often used in meditation and or prayer),

Sutras (teachings) and

Prayers ( to Buddha,

Each one is different and there are many meanings behind each one.

These prayers, symbols and drawings are said to bring blessings, protection, peace, health, healing, prosperity, happiness and long life.

The flags flutter easily in the wind, carrying these attributes to all.

Common Symbols might include the Lunta – Wind Horse – bringing good luck.

Many animals also appear, like the sky dragon, elephant, horse, tiger, snow lion, mythical birds- all with significance behind each one.

All are generally bringing luck, good fortune or are protection symbols.

Common Mantras written on Prayer flags might include:

Om Mane Padme Hum

This Mantra helps purify speech and mind, invoking the intention of compassion and love.

There are any types of Prayer flags; from small squares to large flags.

They should all be treated with respect and reverence.

They should not touch the ground and are not thrown away. They are usually burned and the element of fire transforms and carries the intentions towards the heavens

Prayer flags are replaced frequently and on special occasions such as Lhosar (Tibetan New Year) and for religious ceremonies.

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