They erected a group of prayer flags to the back of their property which fluttered in the wind. The flags were pretty, but since they were so close to my property, many visitors to my home always thought they were my flags, and would ask what they were there for.
Upon closer inspection they would realise that the flags were not on my property at all.
Prayer flags (Jhandis) flying high on bamboo poles in my neighbour's garden
Many years passed, and the elements took their toll on the flags until they stood tattered and torn.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw that new flags had been installed on taller bamboo poles. They can now be seen from further away. They also look as if they're now a part of my garden more than ever.
Closer view depicting the deitiesOnce again my friends were asking the meaning of the flags. Never knowing what answer to give, about the relevance, I decided to carry out my own investigation. Hello Google my friend!
In the Caribbean we have many descendants from bygone days of slavery. When slavery ended in 1834, suddenly there was no more cheap labour available on the plantations. It was then that East Indians were lured to work on the plantations. They arrived in the Caribbean as indentured labourers between 1838 -1917.
150,000 went to Trinidad
250,000 went to Guyana
(With island migration, they are now spread throughout the Caribbean, including Barbados.)
They also brought along their religious beliefs (mostly Hindu) with them. Elements of their surviving Indian culture included erecting prayer flags (Jhandis) outside their homes. The flags are used as part of religious ceremonies, symbols of faith, and a way to show pride in being Hindi.
Each flag is dedicated to a particular deity. Each deity is the embodiment of a particular characteristic. For example, Saraswati is the giver of knowledge, learning and inspiration and Lakshmi is the giver of wealth and prosperity.
Active Hindus will offer their prayers and Mantras to these deities (divas or devis) and place a flag in the ground. Placing the proper prayer may help with many of life's hurdles, like good health after sickness, or finding another job after being fired.
Once the flags are in the ground, they cannot be removed. The only way they can be collected is after time, or if they either break or fall over.
Prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the person who planted the flag and to those in the vicinity.
This may very well be the reason why Brazen loves to sit on the corner of my garden wall.
According to the www.prayerflags.com website, the prayer flag tradition is an ancient one and dates back thousands of years in India and to the shamanistic Bon tradition of pre-Buddhist Tibet. Bonpo priests used solid coloured cloth flags, maybe with their magical symbols, to aid in balancing both internal and external elements. The 5 colors of prayer flags represent the 5 basic elements: yellow-earth, green–water, red-fire, white-air, blue-space. Balancing these elements externally brings harmony to the environment. Balancing the elements internally brings health to the body and the mind.
I also came across this article - all neighbours are not created equal apparently.
There are also pet prayer flags available. Who knew??