It is a beautiful combination of words “Ma” & “La” where “Ma” means MOTHER, unconditional love and “La” means Garland. When we put those words together, it means the “garland of unconditional love”. In other words, MALA is a mother’s love tied together in a garland.
Japa Malas are used in different religious practices. In Hinduism and Buddhism, they are usually used to count the recitation while meditating or performing Japa (praying). Mala helps us stay focused and are the constant reminder of what we are supposed to be doing; meditating. Mala helps us stay aware. Some prefer to wear Mala while others just like to use them while meditating. Japa Malas have 108 beads, a guru bead and a tassel.
Guru Bead: This is the bigger bead at the end of the Mala which signifies the completion of Japa or practice. We start from the bead above it and when we make a full round, we can either stop chanting or go one more time.
Tassel: This is the thread part that hangs at the end of the Mala. Tassel is a symbol of eternity or blooming lotus, enlightenment. When we start the chanting or Japa, we usually start with the tassel towards us.