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Mala beads are prayers beads commonly identified with East Asia community. Mala beads contain a hundred and eight beads that form a beautiful pendant. The East Asian community is a vibrant cultural and tradition entity. The mala bead is a unique identification of this community. What catches the eye when one enters East Asia is the beauty of the regalia- the mala beads. Presented in diverse colors, the mala bead is worn as a bracelet or a necklace depending on individual likes. Some individuals prefer gemstones to wood beads. It all depends on one’s appeal and the intention for the use of the mala bead.

People in ancient times carried their troubles with them since they had no therapists to talk to about the problems. These problems caused difficulty for people that seers could identify. So the prophets of the ancient times saw the problems that people had when it came to meditating. Anxiety issues and problems in concentration were among the issues of concern among the seers. In a bid to solve these issues, the seers introduced the use of beads around 701- 800 BC. The beads later got the name, Japa Malas. Japa Mala beads gained popularity and gained popularity in other cultures as prayer beads. Religions such as Hindu, Buddha, and Islam began using the beads as part of a religious prayer tool. In today’s, the world, close to 66.67% of the population uses Mala beads, rosary, and Tasbih for prayers. These beads are a part of religious artifacts that help in prayers.

King asserts that, a Mala is similar to a garland in Sanskrit. This garland is important in reminding one of their fundamental spiritual natures. During the trade between India and the Roman, Empire Jap was commonly mistaken for Japa. Jap refers to rose in Latin. When the beads spread through Rome, Rosarium became the popular term hence the name rosary adds (King).  

Interestingly the mala beads total to one hundred and eight beads. This composition traces its roots back to the Vedic culture where 108 stood for life. In their books, (Omar and Duffey Page 179) and (Olsen Page 10), document that there are 108 sacred texts in the Yogic culture. (King) speaks of the existence of 108 holy locations all over India, and of 108 point sanctified spots in the body. One hundred and eight as a number is surprisingly the emergency dial number in India. According to (King), in the Jewish practices, 108 is a six-fold to eighteen, a numeral in harmony with life in Hebrew. Moreover, in Islam, 108 as a numeral is equivalent to God.

The Mala beads carry several important religious and cultural importances. Several factors come into play when choosing a mala bead. First, beauty is important in choosing a Mala. Attraction to objects is an important part of the healing process. Choosing a Mala based on beauty helps one find beauty in everything. Meditating on beauty and a beautiful surrounding is uplifting and healing. Secondly, when choosing a Mala, one needs to consider their favorite color. It is important to note that color has a meaning even in the spiritual world. A favorable color ensures an often use and wearing of the Mala. Third, is intention? The ‘what’ question guides intention. This question provides a clear insight as to what an individual wants to achieve. This will eventually lead to the perfect choice of a suitable Mala. Finally, energy is a factor that influences choice. The gemstones used in the Malas have unique and healing energies. Malas that contain gemstones are worn near chakras. The chakra is the central point of energy in the body. The energy emitted by the gemstones need to align with one’s intentions.

The Mala beads are important in the practice of the sixth and seventh limbs of yoga. This is known as the concentration (Dharana) and meditation (dhyana). The beads aid in freeing the mind free from outside thoughts and interruption. The Mala is a string of beads put together to count mantras- Sanskrit prayers made in the Hindu religion. The Mantra is a chant made of a series of words chanted aloud or silently. These chants appeal to the spiritual world in East Asia belief. A mantra is a form of meditation. The chant is spiritual and invokes special and mystic powers to transform consciousness, seek to heal for illnesses and possession. On the other hand, it helps fulfill desires and life ambitions. Using the Japa Mala beads, individual(s) practice of meditation sit in a comfortable position letting the mind relax, focusing it on inner thoughts, and relaxing the breathing.;

The practice of chanting the mantra is necessary for meditation and deep reflection. It requires holding the mala beads in the right hand and using the thumb to run the reflection chant. The individual(s) then goes ahead by touching the beads, during the recitation of the chant. While chanting the prayer an individual pulls the mala beads towards him/herself upon completion of a chant. If an individual(s) has a wrist mala for meditation, one needs to repeat the chant for three times. To vest the Mala with power, the mantra ought to be continuous for forty days. When the Mala has with these powers, it transmits the power and energy to the person. If the Mala is not in use, storing in a special clean sacred place is necessary.

Specific colors, each with a different meaning and significance guides the adornment of the Mala. The red color in the red Jasper Mala encourages mental clarity and focus. It helps quell allergies to animals and those who get overwhelmed easily. The beads further promote healing from body illnesses. The red tiger-eye helps in increasing low sex drive. It is perfect for those looking to accomplish goals and help those with commitment issues. The garnet red Mala helps inspire love and devotion among those chanting the mantra. It helps build courage and self-confidence. The red garnet also helps remove inhibitions and taboos among people. The rose quartz (pink in color) helps encourage unconditional love, promotes love, friendship, as well as provides comfort for the grieving. Rhodonite Pink Mala helps in balancing emotions and healing emotional pain. It helps encourage forgiveness and self-love.

Carnelian orange beads help stimulate creativity. It further helps encourage vitality, courage, and positive life choices. It further helps in sharpening concentration among the mantra believers. Amber beads heal, cleanse, as well as boost the vitality of its believers. The beads help attract love, pleasure, and happiness. They are good for people dealing with or coming out of long illness. Goldstone beads help in stabilizing emotions and promote calmness. Citrine yellow beads help in promoting success in business and personal affairs. Yellow Malay Jade helps inspire wisdom and moderation in the users. The Yellow Malay Jade helps with learning and understanding new information. The Green Aventurine beads help in fostering compassion, empathy, perseverance, prosperity, and decisiveness among its users. As well as, promoting well-being and calmness among the users. The beads are good for leaders and managers. Moss Agate mala beads help in strengthening of one’s self-esteem and balancing emotions. Additionally, it assists in developing strength and inspires one’s growth.

In conclusion, the Japa Mala beads continue to offer beauty and adornment to the believers of the mantra. It is an important artifact to study as it ensures a deeper understanding of the East Asian community. Apart from prayers, the Japa mala beads outline the history of the East Asia community. Mala beads are important artifacts in the meditation process of Yoga classes. The pieces of jewelry that the community prepares to provide a symbol of pride to the community. Additionally, it provides the community with an avenue of income through the sale of the beads- to both locals and foreigners.

Works Cited

Alarashi, Hala. “Butterfly Beads in the Neolithic Near East: Evolution, Technology and Socio-cultural Implications.” Cambridge Archaeological Journa 26.3 (2016): 493-512.

Bailey, Linnea. The Purpose of Life: Answers from the Soul and Tools for Spiritual Growth. NewYork: BookBaby, 2013.

Dwivedi, Bhojraj. Scientific Bases of Hindu Beliefs. India: Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd, 2016.

Isnor, Erin. Anatomy of Mala Beads. 6 May 2014. 29 November 2016 ;https://www.malacollective.com/blogs/mala-collective/13946305-anatomy-of-mala-beads;.

Johnson, Dennis V. “Unusual date palm products: Prayer beads, walking sticks and fishing boats.” Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture 28.1 (2016): 10-12.

King, Deborah. The Meaning And History Of Mala Beads. 1 July 2015. 29 November 2016 ;http://www.healyourlife.com/the-meaning-and-history-of-mala-beads;.

Olsen, Brad. Sacred Places Around the World: 108 Destinations. San Fransisco: CCC Publishing, 2004.

Omar, Irfan A. and Michael K. Duffey. Peacemaking and the Challenge of Violence in World Religions. Chichester: John Wiley ; Sons Copyright, 2015.

Saha, S. K. “A Device for Making Tulsi Mala Beads.” (2013).

Tak-ching Cheung, Neky. “Marriage and Family values: a Case Study of Jiezhu (a religious menopausal ritual) performed in China.” Religions 2015 (2015): 9-12.

Wilson, Jeff. Selling Mindfulness: Commodity Lineages and the Marketing of Mindful Products. Washington: Springer International Publishing, 2016.

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