Colorful prayer flags fluttering against inky blue skies, now that’s a sight for sore eyes, isn’t it?
There is something peaceful, ethereal, other worldly and strangely comforting to see Buddhist prayer flags printed with sacred mantras spreading the message of peace, compassion, love and hope all around. Once in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, you will see these prayer flags almost everywhere. Read this article to broadly understand what these flags signify.
The town of Bir in Himachal Pradesh has Tibetan Buddhist community almost as large as that found in Dharamsala. Overlooking the mighty Dhauladhar Range, the entire region of Bir-Billing in Kangra Valley is dotted with many Buddhist monasteries. While on GoMissing MTB Cycling and Paragliding trip to Bir Billing, you will have many opportunities to see the wonderful, mystical world up close.
Buddhists believe that prayer flags printed with prayers, mantras and powerful symbols produce spiritual vibration that is carried by wind and spread in the environment. These vibrations bless all beings. Even the Tibetan word for prayer flag- Dar Cho means ‘Dar’-increasing life, fortune, health and wealth –‘Cho’ for all beings.
Significance of Five
You will see the prayer flags in five colors arranged in a specific order and in multiples of five. The number five holds tremendous significance in Buddhist traditions and thus there are five elements (fire, earth, metal, water & wood), five basic energies, five directions (north, south, east west and center), five Budhha families and five Wisdoms (compassion, harmony, wisdom of sight, kindness, and perfect wisdom). The set of five flags are closely linked to some of these things. The five colors (blue, white, red, green and yellow) too have special meaning. Blue stands for ether, or wind element; white flag symbolize air, red flag stands for fire. The green and yellow flag symbolize water and earth, respectively.
In addition to text, prayer flags are printed with symbols that have deep significance. Buddhist canonical treatise attach great importance to these symbols. Get to know some of these symbols and their meanings here.
The Wind Horse (Lung-ta) is the most often used symbol printed on prayer flags. It represents good fortune and is believed to carry all prayers swiftly to the gods.
The Eight Auspicious Symbols (Tashi Targye) are yet another set of important icons. You will see them in some form or the other at monasteries, flags and also at Hindu temples. They are:
- Parasol- which protects from all evil
- Golden Fish – representing happiness and beings saved from the sea of suffering
- Treasure Vase – sign of fulfillment of spiritual and material wishes
- Lotus- symbol of purity and spiritual unfoldment
- Conch Shell – proclaims the teachings of the enlightened ones
- Endless Knot- symbolizing meditative mind and infinite knowledge of the Buddha
- Victory Banner – symbolizes the victory of wisdom over ignorance and the overcoming of obstacles
- Dharma Wheel – symbol of spiritual and universal law
The Vajra (Dorje) is spotlessly pure and indestructible. It signifies enlightenment, or the absolute reality.
The Four Dignities are four animals: the Garuda, the Sky Dragon, the Snow Lion and the Tiger. They represent the qualities required to go on the spiritual path to enlightenment. These are qualities such as awareness, vast vision, confidence, joy, humility and power.
Soak up some of these blessings spread in the air when you are in Bir-Billing for GoMissing Cycling and Paragliding trip.
Join GoMissing Bir Cycling and Paragliding trip for a memorable experience or choose from our many adventurous and offbeat MTB expeditions.