No matter you are an atheist or believe in a different faith, participating in local Bhutanese rituals and rites will help you understand their culture and traditions!
Bhutanese people are guided by the principles of Mahayana Buddhism and rituals and rites are part of their daily lives.One of the common rituals is the blessing ceremony and prayer flags hosting. A prayer flag is a rectangular piece of cotton or silk fabric with wood-block printed texts and images. The texts are sacred Buddhist prayers and the images are usually the deities or the holy signs. Prayer flags come in a set of five colors arranged in a order from left to right: blue, white, red, green, and yellow. These five colors represent the five elements: Blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.Tibetan traditional medicine believes that balance of the five elements create health and harmony.Prayer flags are usually hosted in sacred places such as high passes, mountain ridges etc. As the wind blows the flags, sacred prayers and mantras pervade in the form of peace, good will and compassion! The air gets purified and sanctified by the mantras.
Take a chance to partake in such an event or with an advance notice, your guide can arrange a private ceremony for you. The ceremony will be by a senior Buddhist priest and assisted by few other monks and nuns. The ritual involves reading of sacred mantras by the priest, burning of incense and making offering to the deities, and hosting prayer flags. The ritual is aimed at cleansing one's body, mind and speech and pray for the world peace.