You must have seen the Buddhist prayer flags on a lot of bikes. Often they read “Om Ma Ni Padme Hum”. A lot of the recently-turned-biker crowd considers it either a fancy decorative accessory, or a sign that they’ve been to Ladakh. However, a few considerate and informed millennia know that everything on them including the colours, the words and the order of the colours has a specific meaning.

The truth is that these prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. It is believed that the prayers, blessings and the positive goodwill will spread across the space along with the wind. And, there’s more to it. Here are some things you should know before putting those flags on your bike or car.

  1. Significance of the colours

The flags are always placed in a specific order i.e. blue, white, red, green, and yellow. The colour blue is a symbol of sky and space,  white signifies air and wind, red is for fire, green is a symbol of water and yellow signifies earth.

  1. Meaning of the prayer- ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’

“Om” it is a sacred syllable and a mantra common in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. “Mani” is a Jewel, “Padme” stands for Lotus, and “Hum” is the Spirit of enlightenment.

  1. Placement of the flags

While travelling to Himalayas, have you ever wondered that not all flags are placed similarly? Some flags are placed vertically and some are placed horizontally. Well, there is a philosophy to that as well. The ones placed horizontally are known as Lung ta and the vertical ones are Darchog, where the size and the character/deity on tha flag is a big deciding factor.

  1. Respect the Flags

The flag should not be placed on the ground and should be burnt properly instead of disposing. Even if you don’t believe in God or in any religion, the flag has prayers written all over it which should always get respect.

  1. The best time to put the flag

The most propitious time to put up a new prayer flag is in the morning on a sunny, windy day and the best time to replace the old flag is around Tibetan new-year.

So the next time, you see the Tibetan flag, you know what it stands for and what it means to have one on a bike.

Share the knowledge. And, if you have more information on the same, let us know in the comments section.

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