I met Arun and Shyam, thanks to a beautiful friend of mine, Nadia, who took us (Rosy and I), on a very rainy day, into that boutique, in Rishikesh, to buy malas for her yoga school… And OH MY GOD!! We stayed there for ages and even came back the day after. We had a lot of fun with Shyam, talking about the stones, discovering what stones would be best for us, how to choose them etc. etc. and ended up treating ourselves (a lot) with rings, earrings and malas :)!
We even had a little palm reading session, preparing us for our future husbands (or not) haha!
Arun (the owner) was born in Agra. Agra is a famous place for the Taj Mahal first and also for stones cutting and his family was already in the stone « business» owning jewelry stores. So Arun grew up working in the family shops and being impregnated with stones energy and knowledge. At 16, he came to Laxman Juha in Rishikesh and bought the “famous” stones statues to sell from a small shop. Not being successful enough financially to survive, he initiated a conversation with his family to have some support to buy a jewelry shop in Laxman Juha, which he did in 1998. He was then 24.
He started with a small range of products such as simple rudraksha malas etc. and slowly started to grow until Shyam joined him in 2003 and then helped develop the business. Arun retransmitted his knowledge and trained Shyam on everything he knew. A few years after, around 2008, they redesigned the shop and started offering a wider range of products with silver products, more stones, in addition to the plain malas and started designing new malas mixing rudrakshas and gems. They were, for many years, the only one in Rishikesh Laxman Juhla to mix stones and wood :).
Every stone in the boutique has been chosen by shyam and Arun. The purchase of the gems works as follows…
The providers come visit them at their store to sell big rocks from India (Himalayas, Meerut, Amroha, south India) and outside of India (Brazil, Columbia, Sri Lanka, Australia, Africa etc.). When they purchase the big stones, these are then sent to the factory, that will cut them into different shapes depending on the quality of stones.
The first batch with the best quality stones will be used for jewelry (rings etc.) and the second batch will be cut as beads to be used for malas or other non-jewelry items. There is a last batch ( the left over of the production), the powder, that will be used to create paintings.
What is a mala?
Mala is a Sanskrit word meaning “garland”. It represents a string of beads that has been used by sages and in Hinduism and Buddhism for spiritual aspirations. The mala is used to keep count of mantra repetitions (108 times), during meditation. It is also said to enhance spiritual virtues just by wearing it.
The proper way to make malas
When making malas, it’s important to be in a very positive energy and to silence the mind, as much as possible, to keep the energy projected in the mala as pure as possible. While creating a mala, and in order to raise its vibration, it is possible to use a mantra for each bead (or nod). That mantra, will be one of your choosing (if you ask for it), or according to the mala maker. Shyam and Arun usually use the Shiva mantra (Om Namah Shivaya). If you haven’t specially requested the mantra for each bead, they will anyway say one mantra, at least one time, for the mala, any time during the creation process. In addition, the wood chosen for the mala will resonate more with specific mantras. For example, sandalwood and volcanic lava are good for all mantras, while rudraksha will resonate better with shiva mantras (like Om Namah Shivaya). This is a piece of information that can be interesting if you have been given a mantra, or if you affectionate a particular mantra. At the end of the creation process, they will throw same Ganga water on the mala in order to clean & purify it from any energies that could have interacted with the stones since they were taken from their original habitat.
The mala has its own energy and the purity of intention of the maker is important
In addition to these rituals, while creating the mala with the purest energy and vibration, the stones chosen and the wood chosen will definitely add a lot to the healing powers of the malas and to its vibration. Indeed, the gems (semiprecious or precious stones) have an action on charkra centers and consequently to that will help balance energies on these centers of energy working on the daily life triggers that imbalances can bring.
A mala should be made of 108 beads (at best). It can also have 54 or 27 beads though. That spiritual number is said to represent the new beginnings with “1”, the emptiness with “0” and the infinity with “8”. It is often recommended to chant mantras 108 times and that’s how the mala helps in meditation. Each bead representing one mantra chanting, it helps keep track on chanting a mantra for 108 times freeing the mind from counting.
How to hold a mala while meditating?
In hinduism, it is advised to meditate with malas held in the right hand (contrary to buddhism that uses only the left hand). In both traditions, they just consider the hand (right or left) more pure. In addition, in hinduism, it is preferable to hold the mala between the thumb and the middle finger, avoiding the index finger that is considered as being the ego. Once the mala is in place, just slide down bead by bead chanting the mantra on each bead.
How to choose a mala?
You will then find easily what mala resonates the most with you according to all, few or any of the below criteria.
- You can hold the mala, feel the vibration and see what kind of feelings you get
- Intuitively (just by choosing the one that you feel dragged to spontaneously)
- From the color (with color therapy)
- According to your astrological sign
- Depending on your chakra’s needs
- Depending on your triggers in life (physical, emotional and spiritual)
But even with of all the above, the main rule is…
YOU DON’T NEED TO CHOOSE YOUR MALA, THE MALA CHOOSES YOU!