In simple language Mala is garland. Various types of beads or flowers or any other materials are treaded together in it. It is type of ornament which has been used since ancient time.
What is ornament?
Ornaments play a vital role in the human life for beautification. The Sanskrit word for ornament is अलंकार. The etymology of the word can be given as अलं करोति इति अलंकारः that is ‘the ornament is the one which gives full stop to the beautification or by the use of which the process of ornamenting body ends’. Hence in the step of beautification ornaments are used at end to give a final touch.
Traditionally there are various types of ornaments. Various types of garlands, anklets, figure rings, ear ornaments, etc were used since ancient period.
The real reason of Ornamentation
Thought the main purpose of ornament is given as beautification, the actual purpose can be given beyond it. ‘Ornaments work as protection.’ This protection can be through the grace of deities or from protection against evil. Various ornaments and gems are mainly used as protection from evil.
In Charaka Samhita it is said that ‘good, healthy, graceful and beautiful body is the abode of gods. On the other hand diseased, unhealthy body is abode of evil. Hence to make body healthy and beautiful the use of gems and ornaments is suggested by Charaka.
Many of the ornaments are of metal. And metal works as an amulet for removal of evil. Similarly various gems are also suggested for removal of evil.
Hence beautification and protection, these are two reasons for the use of ornaments. But beautification comes later, first it is protection.
Mala as an important ornament
As discussed mala is a garland of various beads, gems, metal chain or other useful material. It is one of the most popular and important ornaments. These malas adorn the neck. It is prominently visible from front because it is worn in the neck. Hence from front it is very easily visible.
As an important ornament, mala is frequently used for various purposes. It is an ornament in which so many gems and stones can be used together. Hence it is the best type of ornament to wear as suggested in Ayurveda to make body healthy.
Another important reason of wearing mala is to expel evil from and around the body. From front it is easily noteworthy, hence it protects from evil eyes.