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Girl Scouts follow Tibetan tradition with prayer flags

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GROTON — A group of pre-teen girls, all of them from Groton, make up Junior Girl Scout Troop 610. The hand-dyed flags they made for their “Peace, Prayers and Wishes” project made a colorful addition to the town’s Memorial Day parade.

The flags, which will be presented to Nashoba Valley Medical Center to become part of an interactive exhibit, were also a gentle reminder on a solemn day that, even amid ceremonies that honor the nation’s war dead and bring home the terrible toll of war, there’s a place for peaceful, hopeful messages and the prayers and wishes that go with them.

That’s what the project was all about, said troop leader Peggy Flynn. She said the project, which took four months, is an adaptation of the Tibetan custom of hanging “lung ta” — meaning “wind horse” — prayer flags from high places such as mountain tops and roof lines. Tibetans believe that prayers written on the flags will be carried up to the heavens as they flutter in the breeze. Legend has it that prayers delivered in this way bring benefits to people all over the world.

Flynn said the girls hand-dyed the flags using the traditional Japanese “shibori” method, and each flag carries a hand-drawn message. In the final display at the hospital, blank flags will be provided for visitors to write their own prayers and wishes.

Flynn, Lauren Tellier and Karen Hartee are the troop leaders and marched with the girls in the parade, with pink and blue flags draped around their necks and others hanging from a banner carried by some of the Girl Scouts.