by Khandro Kunzang
Raising Prayer Flags is a well-known practice among Himalayan Buddhist cultures. On auspicious days and in sacred holy places, pilgrims will hang strings of prayer flags on mountain tops, between trees, and where there are holy stupas. Monasteries, retreat centers and Dharma centers will hang rows of pole flags around the perimeter of the properties.
It is common practice among Tibetan cultures to ‘sponsor’ the hanging of flags at these auspicious places, on behalf of themselves or others, at holy places such as great stupas, and on auspicious days such as the 10th or 25th days of the month, or one of the special Buddhist holy days. It is believed that by doing so, the ‘lung-ta’ or ‘fortune’ of the one who sponsored the flag will be increased. In fact, this is a common remedy recommended in mirror divinations to help with various misfortunate circumstances. The mirror divination will often suggest to hang as many prayer flags as possible to increase one’s success in whatever venture they are undertaking.
Although people may know how to hang flags, and make a practice of hanging flags regularly, I found that not many people know about the practice of writing people’s names on the flags themselves. While this is common knowledge among Tibetan culture, it is not as well-known in the west. Therefore, I would like to explain this practice so you can also benefit from this.
Before hanging the flags, write down the person’s name in the margins of the flag, with the words, “Victory! Victory! Victory!” following the name. To do this, first find out the person’s astrological sign according to Tibetan astrology. There will be an element and animal sign, such as ‘wood horse,’ ‘earth sheep,’ ‘fire moneky,’ ‘ water dog,’ ‘iron mouse,’ etc. Once you know the element, then you write the person’s name on the color flag associated with that element. Wood is green, fire is red, water is blue, iron is white, and earth is yellow. With a permanent marker, write the person’s name (it doesn’t matter what language), then write ‘Victory!” three times (in any language). Write in the margins or the border around the edges. DO NOT write over the letters, mantras, or images.
Here is an example of what it looks like to write names on the flags in English:
The people whose names are written on the yellow flag were born on ‘earth’ years, while the people whose names are written on the white flag, were born on ‘metal’ years.
Born in an earth year – any yellow flag
Born in a fire year – any red flag
Born in a wood year – any green flag
Born in a water year – any blue flag
Born in a metal (iron) year – any white flag
You can write the names of yourself, your family members, or anyone you know who needs a little ‘lift’, and all the good vibrations and blessings that are spread with the wind and rain will be mingled with the person’s energy.
You can read more about the Prayer Flag Tradition from our excellent article by Timothy Clark.
You can also order excellent quality prayer flags from: Radiant Heart Prayer Flags.