Chefchaouen, and a bit about Prayer Beads, Morocco
Jules got up this morning feeling much better.
After a nice long breakfast, we went for a stroll in the beautiful Medina of Chefchaouen.
Just across from the Kasbah there is a large sunny square lined with old Mulberry trees.
Under the trees there is a large selection of cafes and restaurants, all with tables spread outdoors, offering anything from traditional Moroccan food to wood oven Pizza.
The Kasbah has an earth ochre color.
Old men wearing cream colored Jellabas, sit around the entrance and chat.
In one hand they hold their well worn handmade wooden walking canes, and in the other a string of prayer beads.
Islamic prayer beads, called “Misbaha” or “Tasbih”, usually have either 99 or 33 beads on the string.
Prayer beads are used by devotees of many religious traditions such as Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and the Bahá’í Faith.
The counting of the beads is done in order to keep the mind focused on God, to perform ceremonies or prostrations.
But even when these old Islamic men are NOT consciously counting the beads, they are rolled between their fingers, as both a comforting relaxation, and as an automatic way to show their sincerity and their intentions to be devoted to God, even when they engage in other activities…..
Activities like gossiping…. criticizing….. talking about politics…. And more…..
This reminds me of a joke:
“Too bad that the ONLY People who REALLY know how to run a Country, balance the budget and solve world’s hunger, are TOO BUSY cutting hair, driving taxis, or sitting in the markets rolling beads….”
The number of beads also varies depending on the different religions.
Buddhists and Hindus call it “Japa Mala” which usually has 108 beads, or 27 which are counted four times.
Baha’i prayer beads consist of either 95 beads or 19 beads strung with the addition of five beads below.
The Sikh Mala also has 108 beads.
Greek Orthodox calls the string “Komboskini” and it has 100 knots.
Roman Catholics use the “Rosary” (Latin “rosarium”, meaning “rose garden”) with 54 plus an additional 5 beads.
Eastern Orthodox Christians use a knotted “Rosary” with 100 knots called “prayer ropes”.
They may also use a rope with 50 or 33 knots.
Japanese Zen Buddhist prayer beads are called “Juzu”.
In Tibetan Buddhism they are called “Malas” and have 111 or 108 beads: one mala counts as 100 mantras, and the extra 8 or 11, are meant to be dedicated to all sentient beings.
Hindu “Japa Mala” prayer beads, are traditionally made from Tulasi wood, with a larger head bead, in the foreground.
Various type of materials are used to make prayer beads.
Seeds of trees like the “Rudraksha tree,” beads made from the wood of the “Tulasi plant,” animal bones, seeds from the Bodhi tree or seeds of the lotus plant.
Some use Semi-precious stones like “carnelian” and “amethyst”.
A commonly used material is sandalwood.
Old Islamic men sitting around gossiping and counting beads, were so much part of what I used to see while growing up in Israel, that now, many years later, I welcome their sight with a touched heart…
I feel as if I “know” these men intimately…. Even though this is my first time in Chefchaouen…
We sit in a cafe under the Mulberry trees.
I am drinking a mint tea…. Jules who could hardly eat breakfast, is drinking a Coca Cola…
We buy a sampling of cookies from a man with a tray of freshly baked cookies who walks by our table…
Jules seems happy with my “prescribed medicine” for stomach ailments of Coca Cola and cookies…. He is feeling MUCH better today..
The day is sunny, the Rif mountains muffle out the noise of the whole world beyond this mountain range….
What more can a woman ask for?……
I am grateful to LIFE for EVERYTHING!
Oh… I almost forgot… The bit about Chefchaouen…. You can read about it from Jules, in the very informative post he made today, while sitting under the Mulberry tree, munching on fresh cookies and drinking Coke: