Sunday, September 25, 2022

Unveiling the Mystery of Longda

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When you travel to Tibet, you can see the great number of Buddhists Prayer Flags hung at the summits of mountains, passes of mountains, banks of rivers, sides of roads, roofs of monasteries, etc. But do you even know that these are not just some fancy accessories? Everything from the color to the word holds a meaning. Originated from Bon culture, the prayer flags, namely Longda in the Tibetan language, primarily carry our prayers via the wind to get them answered.

Longda is mainly for seeking blessings from Buddha for themselves and their families and expressing their worship and reverence for Buddhism. 

In Tibet, there is a universal phenomenon that numerous people scatter scraps of paper into the sky. Nowadays, we advocate environmental protection, while this behavior seems to go against this principle. In fact, those scraps of paper are Longda, which means blessing. In the Tibetan language, Long means wind, and da means horse. Putting together the two words, it means the horse flag in wind.

The reason why those streamers are known as prayer flags is that there are numerous Buddhism sutras printed on them. In Buddhist believers’ eyes, the prayer flag waves for one time in the wind means reciting the sutra once, which is a way to show pilgrims’ wishes and seek blessings from Gods. Therefore, the prayer flag has become a link between Gods and men. According to Tibetan Buddhism, where there is the prayer flag, there are God and wishes.

Compared with prayer flags, the fame of Longda is not so famous for most people in the world.  Tibetan prayer flags, Longda is printed with lection and patterns.

What is the Usage of Longda

Longda is mainly for seeking blessings from Buddha for themselves and their families and expressing their worship and reverence for Buddhism. Besides these, scattering Longda is also a way to offer sacrifices to their ancestors.

Longda still has another usage in Tibet. When holding a wedding, relatives and friends always scatter Longda into the sky for the purpose of seeking blessing and prayer for the bridegroom and the bride.

How Many Types of Longda

Longda can be paper or cloth with patterns and election. The shapes of Longda are square or rectangular. Having a close look at the pattern, you will see a horse carrying the wishing jewel in the middle, sun and moon painting on the top, and four animals like a dragon, eagle, tiger, and lion standing in the four corners. In the tradition of Tibetan history, different animals have different meanings. The dragon stands for prosperity, the eagle represents vitality, the tiger symbolizes the body, the lion means brave, and the horse is spirit.

Where Does it Go

Longda is an ancient tradition in Tibetan areas. Paper Longda is scattered with the following wind, while cloth Longda is connected with a wool rope hanging on the bridge or some holy high lands, such as Mount Kinabalu. There is no mandatory provision of the destination of Longda.

The colorful Longda are everywhere in Tibet, especially on the Sichuan – Tibetan Highway.

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