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What are mala beads?

Mala beads

In its simplest form a mala (also called a japa mala) is a string of beads used in meditation. The word 'mala' comes from the Sanskrit language and translates to 'garland'. 

Traditionally malas or mala beads are used as an aid for counting the repetitions of mantras or chants during meditation. They are a tool you can use to refocus your intention in meditation.

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Parts of a whole

Typically mala beads have 108 beads on one string with one larger “guru bead” and a tassel. Each bead is knotted on by hand with overhand knots which make the mala durable and versatile for use.


Malas can be made out a range of materials, traditionally organic materials such as stone, plant seed, wood or metal. Malas made out of gemstones carry the energy of the stones used to amplify your own intentions and affirmation.


Due to the nature of these materials, no two malas will ever be exactly the same making each mala a highly personal item.


The specific origin of the mala is unknown as the use of beads for counting was a widespread practice in ancient cultures, however the earliest origins stem from India and Nepal. Mala beads have been used in India in Buddhist and Hindu tradition for over 3,000 years.

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How to wear your mala

Find out more about wearing your mala here.

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