Saturday, 5 May 2012

Tibetan scarves and their meaning

Perhaps our readers have been wondering why the sponsors of our literacy project are wearing those beautiful yellow scarves in the photos. If you remember, most of our current WLP students belong to the Buddhist community of Gulabgarh and these silk scarves are an important part of their tradition. We'd like to explain why.

Bestowing a Khata or silk scarf, is an ancient Tibetan buddhist tradition that is still honored today. The Khata is offered as an auspicious symbol of good intentions during the welcoming and initiation of new relationships. In fact, they are presented as blessings to all types of new relationships and during events such as religious and political ceremonies, marriages, births, funeral ceremonies, and on any occasion that a person considers worthy of its bestowal. We chose to present our supporters with a Khata as a sign of our deepest respect and gratitude.

The offering of a Khata often marks a powerful change and transition in a person’s life. It is an honor for a person to be presented with this genuine act of blessing and good will.

Khatas are bestowed on images of Buddha, spiritual teachers and objects of devotion as a sign of respect and gratitude and so it is very common for people to hang white silk scarves over altars and around the sacred objects that are placed there. They are also considered to bring good luck. In addition, you will often see them flown and put on prayer flags. It's a wonderful feeling when you receive a Khata as you reach the top of a high mountain pass!

The traditional scarves are usually made of white or ivory colored silk with symbols or mantras either inscribed or woven into the fabric. Cotton as well as other fabrics are used to create Khatas and they are available in a variety of colors including blue, red, green and yellow or gold.

On a curious note, while President Obama was being sworn in as President of the United States, he was carrying a white silk scarf, or khata, blessed by H.H. the Dalai Lama, in his pocket.


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