What are Buddhist Prayer Wheels?
Buddhist prayer wheels are an inseparable part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, made of hollow metallic, wooden, or stone hollow cylinders, mounted on a rod made of wood or metal. They are used as a meditation aid, to accumulate good karma, and diffuse bad karmas and negative energies. “Om Mani Padme Hum” is the mantra recited while turning the prayer wheels, and is also usually embossed on it.
The tube inside the cylinder is called the “Life Tree” and has tightly scrolled paper with Sanskrit or Tibetan mantras wrapped around it. Each time a person spins the wheels, it represents a recitation of the prayer inside and accumulates blessings and spiritual merit for them. Prayer wheels come in various sizes, starting from the hand-held versions on a small stick to the gigantic ones often seen in monasteries or in the centre of Buddhist village squares.
There are several types of prayer wheels that include mani wheels, (the handheld ones), water wheels (installed in the path of flowing water), wind wheels (turned by the wind), fire wheels (turned by heat of a flame or powered by electricity), and the stationary ones that have to be manually rotated.
This Wind Prayer Wheel is in the upper Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh.