I've received some Tibetan prayer flags as a gift, and I was wondering if there are any protocols for hanging them up? Possibly there is some auspicious or inauspicious way to go about it? Where would be a suitable place to hang them? Traditionally they're hung up outdoors, yes? etc.
Symbolism and Tradition
Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to 'gods,' a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.
By hanging flags in high places the "Wind Horse" will carry the blessings depicted on the flags to all beings. As wind passes over the surface of the flags which are sensitive to the slightest movement of the wind, the air is purified and sanctified by the Mantras.
The prayers of a flag become a permanent part of the universe as the images fade from exposure to the elements. Just as life moves on and is replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by continually mounting new flags alongside the old. This act symbolizes a welcoming of life changes and an acknowledgment that all beings are part of a greater ongoing cycle.
Timing of Hanging and Taking Down
Some believe that if the flags are hung on inauspicious astrological dates, they may bring negative results for as long as they are flying.
The best times to put up new prayer flags are in the mornings on sunny, windy days.
I'm a bit worried that hanging them up publicly in the area I live might be a bit of an invitation for people to vandalize the house or something... so I'll have to keep that in mind.