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When travelling in Tibet, you will see colorful flags everywhere fluttering in the wind- sometimes waving gently, sometimes raging. They are Tibetan prayer flags which are inscribed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers, and mantras. The Tibetan word for prayer flag is Dar Cho. “Dar” means to increase life, fortune, health and wealth. “Cho” means all sentient beings. Prayer flags are simple devices that, coupled with the natural energy of the wind, quietly harmonize the environment, impartially increasing happiness and good fortune among all living beings.
In Tibet, the tradition of hanging flags began more than 2000 years ago. Prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and those in the vicinity. Tibetan people plant prayer flags to honor the nature gods of Bon. They used colors of the five elements: blue for sky or space; white for air or clouds; red for fire; green for water and yellow for earth. Balancing the elements internally brings health to the body and the mind. They hung the flags outside their homes, over mountain passes and rivers and other places of spiritual practice for the wind to carry the beneficent vibrations across the countryside.
When Buddhism was introduced to Tibet in the 7th century, it brought the ideals of peace and compassion. Buddhists added their own texts to increase the power of the flags. Over the next 200 years Buddhist monks began to print ancient symbols, prayers and mantras for generating compassion, health, wish fulfillment, and for overcoming diseases, natural disasters and other obstacles. In this present dark-age disharmony reigns and the elements are way out of balance. The earth needs healing like never before. Prayer flags moving in the wind generate a natural positive energy. Acting on a spiritual level the emanating vibrations protect from harm and bring harmony to everything touched by the wind. Thus they became known Prayer Flags.