Location: Ashram of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Varkala, Kerala, India; Material: Rosewood & Sandalwood
While the group from my program was on our travel week throughout South India, we had the chance to visit the Ashram of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, where they filmed the India portion “Eat. Pray. Love.”! It was very exciting and beautiful, and we received a free, vegetarian meal there, which was absolutely delicious. As with other important places of worship that are also tourist destinations, this ashram had a gift shop that sold religious items that are important in both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Some of these many items were the Mala Beads I am wearing in the above picture. What exactly are Mala Beads? They come in a number of different sizes and lengths, the most common necklaces being the longer ones with bigger beads (aka, not the ones I bought). Mala beads are a religious item used to say mantras for Hindus and Buddhists. The mantras are cited for four different purposes: to appease, increase, overcome, or tame by forceful means. The necklaces have 108 beads, signifying that the person must perform 108 repetitions of a chosen mantra. The concept may remind people of Rosary Beads in Christianity.
As you can see, I purchased two different types of Malas. One is Rosewood, which is believed to be good for the skin, improving the circulation and strengthening an individual’s aura while repelling the negative energy. The other is sandalwood. Fast becoming extinct, sandalwood is naturally fragrant and exceedingly smooth. Sandalwood has traditionally been regarded as one of the purest substances and is valued for its cooling properties and its medicinal value too. It is believed to promote tranquility as an aid to meditation. Sandalwood is also the most common scent of incense they use in India. I do not wear these very often, but they have a very important significance to the place where I purchased them!
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Richards