Office of Cultural Affairs
Holloway Hall

The Mystical Arts of Tibet

Prayer Flags

The bright and colorful flags that decorate the campus, Great Hall and Commons are prayer flags, or Lungta, that sanctify the air, purify the mind and spread blessing to all beings. The flags have been hand blocked by Buddhist monks in Nepal, and each flag is imprinted with sacred mantras (prayers) for peace, compassion and wisdom.

Contrary to popular belief, prayer flags do not carry prayers to the gods, but spread compassion and good will through the universe. It is believed that the prayers are permanently part of the world when the mantras fade from the flags. They may be hung inside or outside, as the sentiments will be carried by even the slightest breeze.

Hanging new prayer flags is usually a reason to celebrate, and they are often placed beside old flags to acknowledge life’s cycle of new replacing the old. Prayer flags are hung in a specific order from left to right, starting with blue and moving to white, red, yellow, and green.

In Hinduism, the number five represents a wholeness found in nature, and similarly, the five prayer flags represent the interconnected nature of our universe. The five prayer flags each represent a different element, direction, Buddha, and wisdom, found in the chart below.