Tibetan Prayer Flags are flown throughout the Himalayas, and are often seen at bridges, crossroads, holy sites, temples, rooftops, mountain summits or anywhere the prayers may meet the wind. The flags are traditionally printed with auspicious symbols, mantras and prayers, which are blown by the wind, spreading good will and compassion into all of space. It is an ancient tradition, dating back thousands of years, with the intent of bringing benefit to all, invoking compassion, harmony, peace, wisdom and strength, and offering protection against dangers and evil.
The horizontal flag strings are called Lung ta in Tibetan, meaning "Windhorse", and the vertical pole flags are called Darchor, meaning "flagstaff". The five different flag colors have many meanings in Tibetan Buddhism, including the five directions, the five wisdoms, the five meditation Buddhas, the five mental attributes, and the five physical elements ~ blue sky, white cloud, red fire, green water, and yellow earth.
Prayer flags naturally fade as they are exposed to the elements, and traditionally, are replaced during the Tibetan New Year. As a flag's images fade from exposure to the wind and elements, the prayers become a permanent part of the universe. Just as all living things move on and are replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by mounting new flags alongside the old. The prayer flag tradition welcomes the ongoing cycle of life with good will, wisdom, and harmony.