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.
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