Environmentalists turn Buddha stupa prayer flags in Nepal to white for Earth

From onlinekhabar.com

During an event on Saturday, December 18, the iconic and colorful prayer flags of the Buddha Stupa in Nepal were removed and replaced with white flags. Ang Dolma Sherpa, a Buddhist laywoman and entrepreneur, helped run the event. The goal, she says, is to eliminate both synthetic fibers and chemical dyes from the widespread activities in the country of producing and using Buddhist prayer flags.

Buddha Stupa, located about 11 km (6.8 miles) northeast of the center of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, is Nepal’s largest stupa, some 36 meters (118 feet) tall. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists in the country. Since 1979, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Typically, it is adorned with prayer flags in yellow, green, red, white, and blue. Increasingly, the flags used there and elsewhere in Nepal have been made of synthetic fabrics.

Panorama of the stupa before the change of flags. From wikipedia.org

“It is the center of Buddhist religious faith, so I think it will send a good message and also spread to other places,” said Chandra Man Lama, chairman of the region’s development committee. by Boudhanath. (Jakarta Post)

According to Sherpa, “The flags we all know and use are made of nylon or synthetic fabric. These flags are burnt and they then harm our environment, leaving a significant carbon footprint. We always talk about climate change; there is a lot of awareness about it; but, now is the time to switch from synthetic prayer flags to biodegradable flags. (Khabar online)

Some of the personalities who have supported Sherpa’s initiative include Nepal’s first female international mountain guide, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, the Chairman of the Buddha Area Development Committee, Chandra Man Lama, Honorary Consul in Nepal, and the specialist. sustainable tourism and conservation Lisa Choegyal and UNESCO representative in Nepal Micheal Croft.

According to Sherpa, prayer flags in the distant past were mostly white. She prefers to return to white flags for both environmental and economic reasons. “Many have suggested that I use a natural dye. But, natural dyes are expensive. And while I can use it, it does mean the cost to end users is going up as well. And that seemed unfair. I wanted the price to remain minimum, ”she says. (Khabar online)

Sherpa adds, “We are talking about climate change and sustainability. So the use of cotton does that to a certain extent, but we’re not just thinking about the economics. An individual can buy the prayer flags once, for lack of support for local initiative or even for climate concern. But, if the product is expensive, it does not encourage them to buy again and change their behavior.

From onlinekhabar.com

Sherpa, along with her partner Shreesma Shakya, has been working on this event since 2020. Over the months, she says she has garnered a lot of support from Buddhists interested in helping her. “I was very anxious and worried that people would be offended and hurt their religious feeling,” Sherpa said. that I learned from Buddhism and from my family. (Khabar online)

At the Buddha Stupa, the flags are only changed once a year. This means that the whites will be visible until at least December 2022. It is estimated that Nepal’s monasteries alone use some 2.5 million prayer flags per year, making the market very important for a more environmentally friendly option. And while many flags are burnt, causing pollution, Sherpa suggests that cotton flags be buried instead, where they will decompose in a matter of months.

Mountain guide and supporter, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa carried the biodegradable flags on a recent expedition to the 5,630-meter (18,471-foot) summit of Yalung Ri in eastern Nepal. “It is very important that they are biodegradable,” she said. “These prayer flags (sic) and khadas have an invisible impact.” (Jakarta Post)

See more

Buddhist prayer flags turn white i.e. green (Khabar online)
Nepal’s largest stupa transforms into biodegradable prayer flags (Jakarta Post)

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