Khata: The Symbol of Respect and Blessings

Culture

A khata is a piece of silk which the Tibetans use to embody their ritual, and a must-have item in social comm...

A khata is a piece of silk which the Tibetans use to embody their ritual, and a must-have item in social communication. A khata is similar to the libo that the ancient Chinese people use during important events. It is a long silk scarf or a gauze scarf used to express respect and blessings, and it is usually white and blue, and sometimes it can also be yellow or other colors.

Additionally, there are also five-colored khatas, and their colors include blue, white, yellow, green, and red. White represents white clouds, green represents rivers, red space guardian gods, and yellow the earth. A five-colored khata is offered to the Bodhisattva, and is a precious gift. The Buddhist explanation of the five-colored khatas is that they are the clothes of the Bodhisattva. Therefore, the five-colored khatas are only used in special occasions.

A khata is the most popular gift to present to guests among all of the Tibetans.

In Tibetan, kha means a mouth, and ta means a horse. The literal translation of the phrase is: a horse on the mouth, which means that the gift is as valuable as a horse. The truth is that not everyone can bring a horse with them when meeting other people, but they cannot just talk and present nothing. Therefore, they use the silk khata to replace a horse.

Offering a khata shows people’s reverence to the Buddha, and their respect and blessings to the person they meet.

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