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The ritual of hoisting a prayer flag is imbued with deep spiritual significance in Buddhism. So when one gets an opportunity to witness this prayer flag ceremony one is participating in a very symbolic event for the Bhutanese. One can even make a personal wish for the Buddha’s benediction as one watches the prayer flags fluttering in the wind.
We will wend our way to the area behind the local Shedra near Gangtey Lodge to witness the prayer flag hoisting ceremony being performed. Prayer flags are hoisted for happiness, long life, prosperity, luck, and merit and to offer karmic merit to all sentient beings. Prayer flags are raised outside homes, hung on hilltops, bridges and places of spiritual importance. The humble rectangular piece of cloth, fluttering in the breeze, actually features prayers, images of deities or symbols of religious significance. The five basic colours of a set of five flags are from left to right: blue, white, red, green, and yellow and represent the five elements and when all these are in balance create harmony and good health, according to medical lore. The ceremony of the flag hosting is presided over by a Buddhist priest and is accompanied by the chanting of sacred mantras and burning of incense.
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