Thousands of Peace Flags Will Greet Dalai Lama

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: July 19, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Virtually the entire University at Buffalo community is engaged in preparation for the Sept. 18-20 visit to UB by the His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

And one of the busiest groups will be the flag-makers.

That's because this group of UB volunteers – all faculty, staff and students are being asked to help -- has the daunting task of creating more than 5,000 peace flags to be hung campus-wide during His Holiness' time here.

The first flag-making session was held Wednesday in the lobby of the Student Union. Eight additional sessions are scheduled for August and early September. (See schedule at end of this article).

The peace flags, based on the concepts of Tibetan Buddhism, are called 'Dar Cho' in Tibetan. 'Dar' means to increase life, fortune, health, and wealth; 'cho' means (for) all sentient beings.

The flags "are said to couple with energy of the wind to quietly harmonize the environment, imparting happiness and good fortune to all living beings," according to flag-making coordinator Andrea Costantino, director of student life. "The Dalai Lama will immediately recognize these flags, from his own tradition, as a message of good fortune."

Traditionally, these prayer flags are displayed throughout Tibet and India as a way for Buddhist people to send positive thoughts through the land.

For those making the flags, the only skill required will be following the order in which colors appear on each flag, beginning with blue (which symbolizes space), then white (air), followed by red (fire), green (water) and yellow (earth).

Some of the common symbols appearing on the flags include the Wind Horse, which carries the "wish-fulfilling jewel of enlightenment" and represents good fortune and the Four Dignities, which are four animals -- the Garuda, the Sky Dragon, the Snow Lion and the Tiger -- representing qualities developed on the spiritual path of enlightenment, such as awareness, confidence and humility.

The flags also traditionally highlight eight "auspicious symbols:" the parasol, symbolizing protection from all evil; the golden fish, symbolizing happiness and beings saved from the sea of

suffering; treasure vase, symbolizing fulfillment of spiritual and material wishes; the lotus, symbolizing purity and spiritual enfoldment; the conch shell, symbolizing the teachings of the enlightened ones; the endless knot, symbolizing meditative mind and infinite knowledge of the Buddha; the victory banner, symbolizing victory of wisdom over ignorance; and the Dharma wheel, symbolizing spiritual and universal law.

Staff members have begun hanging completed flags in the Student Union. They also will be displayed in the Residence Halls dining areas, the Center for the Arts atrium, Alumni Arena and at UB Stadium.

For those interested in helping create the flags, future sessions will be held on the following dates and locations:

* Aug. 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 240 Student Union

* Aug. 25, 9 a.m. to noon, 240 Student Union

* Aug. 26, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Union Lobby

* Aug. 27, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Union Lobby

* Aug. 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Student Union Lobby

* Aug. 30, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Student Union Lobby

* Sept. 6, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Student Union Lobby

* Sept. 13, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Student Union Lobby

Those interested in participating in the project may contact Jennifer Wantz, assistant director of student activities, at 645-2055 or .

For information about the Dalai Lama's visit to UB, go tohttp://www.buffalo.edu/dalai_lama/.