Prayer Flags and Prayer Wheels

Our visit to Sikkim in December 2014 was the first time we had set foot in the North-Eastern parts of India. Everything appeared new, interesting and yes, fascinating. No matter how much we had read or seen photographs of, it was still a ‘First Experience’, and one that we shall always remember. Before I begin my detailed posts on the stories and memories I have brought back, let me show you just what fascinated us the most…. Prayer Flags and Prayer Wheels!




The Prayer Flags were prominent on the roads as soon as we entered the hills in Darjeeling. I had read that the colours all have a significance, and while it is believed that they pass on our prayers to the Gods, the actual concept is to spread the virtue of the prayer in the wind, and circulate it among the people. The concept was great, but seeing the brightly coloured flags fluttering in the wind was even better!





They lined the paths to houses and monasteries, formed a fence to small lakes and ponds, fluttered atop a convenient tree, and elaborate ones even graced the flagpole of monasteries. I wished I could read and understand the prayers written on them!






The Prayer Wheels were even more fascinating, especially since we could actually turn them! Again, we already knew that there were prayers etched inside, and turning one was equivalent to saying the prayer aloud. The idea was so interesting, of praying without a sound! No wonder these hills were so serene!



The variety of prayer wheels was even more interesting – some with the syllables of the prayer written in decorative script, some with embossing, some with figures! Visiting monastery after monastery, it soon became a game for Samhith, who rushed to turn every prayer wheel in sight! I don’t think prayer has ever been so much fun for him!





At one of the monasteries we visited, we saw this sheet, stuck on the pillar supporting the prayer wheels. It explains the meaning and the effect of the syllables which make up the prayer inside the wheels.




It only emphasizes the fact that mere turning isn’t enough. It is necessary to understand it too. Turning the wheel can only be a beginning. But the mere fact of turning signifies a hope – of change, of better times. 

Comments

  1. Such a beautiful post, Anu. I am obsessed with prayer flags and everything pertaining with Buddhism. Prayer flags have always made me feel at home and happy.

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    1. Thank you, Amrita. I can so understand that.... especially now that I have seen them :D

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  2. Vibrant photos. Prayer flags are one of the most popular objects for travel photography, but still, when we actually see them, the new experience doesn't get any less newer :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Antonina! You have put it perfectly. There are some things which never lose their charm, no matter how photographed, and these are some of them!

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  3. Beautiful post ,prayer flags and prayer wheels do fascinate me too ,your post reminded me of Mcleodganj

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    1. Thank you, Ani. I have yet to visit Mcleodganj! Hopefully will, this year :D

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  4. this reminded me of 1992.. yeah thats the time when i went to a Trek with my NCC group to Sikkim .. it is really a beautiful place.. and visited the Rumtek monastary (if i remember correctly)...

    Bikram's

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    1. wow! that must have been quite a trip! Sikkim would have been even more unspoilt! and yes, you would have visited Rumtek too... that comes up later in the series :D

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  5. Wonderful photographs. We seem to be writing about the same place at the same time! :)

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    1. Thank you Deepanjan! Just hopped over to your blog, and yes, we are both writing about Sikkim, but I didnt visit that part of the state at all.. we stayed at Baiguney and visited a bit of West Sikkim, then headed to Gangtok and did a bit of sightseeing thats all.. you seem have done a good tour of north sikkim, and the photos are beautiful! hope i can do that some other time.

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