A common sight in Ladhak the Prayer flags… let us know more about them.

Prayer flags are a common sight in northern India’s remote Ladhak region. A prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and send wishes of good fortune to all beings. These colorful flags instantly soothe the spirit with their joyous fluttering in the breeze. Their presence speaks of centuries-old traditions, faith and symbolism bringing peace to devotees and Pilgrims. Buddhist prayer flags are hoisted at sites open to the elements, where the breeze can blow over them carrying the sentiments they bear afar to the surrounding countryside.

The flags are made of fabric in five colors- Yellow, Green, Red, White, and Blue. They are displayed in multiples of five, in a particular sequence. There are two kinds of flags – horizontal and vertical. The horizontal ones are called Lung Dar and the vertical ones are Dar Cho. The number 5 speaks of the five basic energies that manifest in the physical world, namely Earth (Yellow flag), Water(Green Flag), Fire (Red Flag), Air (White Flag) and Space(Blue flag).

From ancient times, these flags were believed to balance the five elements within a person as well as between a person and his environment. The flag has some motifs on it like- wind horse in the center , the four corners of the flag, has four dignities – the Garuda, the Dragon, the Snow Lion and the Tiger.The flags are replaced with new ones each year. Color fading from the flags is considered auspicious.