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Prayer flags, Nepal, 2005

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Strings of colourful cotton prayer flags fluttering above the roofs of houses are common in the mountain villages of Nepal. Each flag has Buddhist mantras and images of Buddhist deities printed on them. These are said to bring good luck in all aspects of life, including health. Wind blowing the flags is said to activate their power. The prayer flags are always arranged in the same order: blue, white, red, green and yellow. The colours represent the Buddhist five elements: space, water, fire, air and earth respectively.

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Glossary: Buddhism

A belief system or religion originally from India and based on the teachings of Siddharta Guatama, known as ‘The Buddha’, who died about 400 BCE. It requires ethical and unselfish behaviour.

Glossary: prayer flag

(especially in Tibetan Buddhism) a flag on which prayers are inscribed.