Multi-coloured flags spill all over the sacred viewpoint at Observatory hill in Darjeeling, a place sacred for Hindus and Buddhists alike. The shrine, which originally graced the hill, was transferred to a monastery location not far from Chowrasta, the library of which houses the original manuscript of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

My Tibetan friend sent me this description of prayer flags, which I purchased in Darjeeling.  I reproduce his words as received:

  “Here is a brief description about the prayer flags:
1~ Sky Blue ( nam-ngonpo )
2~ Cloud white ( tin-karpo )
3~ Fire red ( mae-marpo )
4~ Water green ( chhu-jangu )
5~ Earth yellow( sa-serpo )
It can be erected on pole or stitch together in one rope and stretched, following accordingly as given above,
There are many types of scripts such as prayer of different gods and goddesses like

Purpose for these flags are of-course for good luck and as well as for all the living beings to be pulled towards the higher realms or to the path way of nirvana. It is said when the wind blows the flags it moves the mantra which is written will spread all throughout the world's lowest from water and highest up to Snow mountains to help every beings. The flags are erected specially in New year and Special days according to Tibetan astrological calculation, Everybody has to be careful about the black day, when erecting or putting-up the prayer flags, because we believe that erecting or putting-up the prayer flags on the black day will bring the person bad luck until the flags are finished or destroyed. Such days are known in Tibetan calendars.

How do we erect or put up the prayer flags??

We first make prayers for all living being's happiness and then erect or put-on the flags, after that to each flag we make white marking by flour (Tsampa)for good Omen and burn some incense and everybody surround in one line taking handful of Tsampa in each person's hand, holding everybody's hand highup in
front of our own faces three time and each time we hold our hands upwards we make sounds like:

like this we make three time(SOOO..SOOO..SOOO) and in forth time we release the Tsampa from everybody's hand to the sky and shouts like :

...KI - KI SO - SO LHA GYALLO ( Glory to
the Gods )

Some people put the Tsampa to each others hair and this means like wishing themselve live for long life until the greyhair comes. After that we sit together and eat, drink, and maybe sing and dance like celebrating.”



Scenery in the Eastern Himalayas. The tree-fern Cyathea brunoniana (Wall. Ex Hook) Clarke et Bak is common in this area, as is the giant tree fern Cyathea gigantea (Wall. Ex Hook) Holtt. The soft pith of C. brunoniana is said to be edible








Gardenia spp. growing near Gantok, believed to be G. kirkii. Gardenia flowers are not raised by the Indian flower trade, although some species are found in gardens. The young shoots of G. gummifera L. is the source of Dikamali gum, used to rub on the gums of infants when teething.







Market trader, Darjeeling. Basically 2 types of herbal system survive in Sikkim - the Nepali system (Jaributi) and the Tibetan system. The former system often uses single unprocessed material in its natural form (roots, seeds, twigs etc.) whereas the Tibetan system uses a mixture of powdered herbs and extracts which act synergistically to treat the condition. In addition various non-vegetable additives (gold, pearl etc) are included. Some herbs identified in herbal trading from by Biswas (1956) include Chaulmoogra, Lycopodium, Aconite, Kuth etc. and it would appear that subsequently that over-exploitation of herbal resources has lead to virtual extinction of some formerly common Sikkim species e.g. Podophyllum hexandrum, Jatamansi etc.

Ref: K. Biswas (1956) Common Medicinal Plants of Darjeeling & Sikkim Himalaya M/S Bengal Govt. Press,  W. Bengal.


The meditation practice of the Medicine Buddha
can be used to heal self and others. 


The Medicine Buddha is depicted as
sitting in the lotus position, dressed in three robes, and sitting on a thousand-petalled lotus, which bedecks a jewelled throne. The Medicine Buddha is depicted coloured as a radiant but translucent blue, with a myrobalan plant in his right hand, and a nectar-filled begging bowl in his lap.

Myrobalan ("supreme medicine") is Terminalia chebula Retz. and a forest of Myrobalan, which can be smelled from miles away, is found in Eastern Tibet at "Fragrant Mountain" Ponadan.  The perfume from the tree is said to drive away all four hundred and four diseases. Fruits are also a component of the Ayurvedic medicine triphala, used for many complaints.



Real Aromatherapy in the Indian Hills

Copyright © 2001 by Tony Burfield. All Rights Reserved.