My Bucketlist: #8 Nepal Pt. 1 Prayer Flags

So I’ve developed a recent, obsessive interest in prayer flags. I’m not quite sure when and how this interest developed, but when I saw them up close for the first time on the summit of Mt. Chocorua, I knew it was time to blog about them. And what better way to mix my love of all things foreign and adventurous than to write about prayer flags and how they decorate the Nepalese mountainside, and Nepal in general? That’s right, there is no better way.

These Lung Ta lovelies are strung along a Mt. Everest base camp.

You would definitely notice prayer flags by their bright eye-catching colors. Usually seen along mountain peaks, they are believed to bless the surrounding areas with longevity, wealth, and happiness. Prayer flags have their origins from the Bon tradition of preBuddhist Tibet and traveled to Nepal by way of an Indian monk, or so one story goes. Buddhists believe that when the wind blows through the flags,  good prayers and wishes blow across the surrounding land as well. You should also raise prayer flags with the intention of spreading prayers to others, it’d have more of an effect than if you were to think “Oh let me raise these flags just for me,” you know, if you were to ever consider stringing up flags in your backyard.
Two of the many types are:
Lung Ta or Wind Horse prayer flags, which hang down from strings like in the picture shown above.
Darchor flags are the second type attached to poles and strung vertically down, like in the example below!

Darchor flags strung up in Tibet. So colorful are they not? Makes me want to break out into song and frolic in the surrounding countryside if not for the fact that frolicking would most likely result in a painful, timely death in those hilly, rocky regions.

I had the chance to buy these flags in Rockport, MA in a seaside tourist shop, but because of my caustic attitude towards tourist traps cheapening genuine cultural artifacts (not to mention way overpricing them), I didn’t make any purchases. Instead, I’m going to wait until my future visit to Nepal to buy locally made prayer flags.

***A little background on me: I don’t like buying souvenirs that look like they’ve been mass-produced in a corporate chain. If I were to spend any of my money (and my friends can attest to my…thriftiness), it would be on something that’s made with more care than just a machine-made pattern. I like my belongings to have special meaning, I want to look at them and think back to a memory.

Texts take the form of mantras, sutras, and prayers. Mantras are a series of syllables thought to have special “powers” when invoked – their lengths range from the famous “OM” to the Hundred-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva.  The meanings are not entirely translatable either, their true significance is beyond what can be translated. Sutras are actual prose texts that range from short, medium, to long lengths. I’ve heard that some iterations can take up to four hours to recite once. Yeah, how’s that for devotion?

Different colors and designs show different meanings, and they should always strung in a left-to-right, yellow, green, red, white, blue sequence. The colors represent the main elements and the animals (Flying Horse, Garuda eating a snake, Dragon, Tiger, Lion) are the manifestations of the removal of obstacles as well as the harbingers of positivism. These two articles are chock full of more detailed information – http://www.prayerflags.com/download/article.pdf and http://www.geography-site.co.uk/pages/citizenship/prayer_flags.html – if you feel like doing some extra reading.

If any of you should happen to have any prayer flags, you should send some pictures over to me because I’d love to see them! Anywho, Pt. 2 of Nepal is coming up so check back here soon! :)

Be Fearless xoxo

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5 comments

  1. Nepal is amazing!

    1. I agree completely – it looks amazing! Definitely have to go there one day and flood this blog with pictures :)

      1. Yeah, go hiking! So amazing! I worked in an orphanage there, was really nice. Nepal is really something else.

      2. I can’t even imagine a hike there, the views must be incredible. My friend and I were actually thinking of volunteering at an orphanage there – that plan is still in the works!

  2. […] My Bucketlist: #8 Nepal Pt. 1 Prayer Flags (travelculturebooksandtea.wordpress.com) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged Nepal. […]

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