What does Mara mean?

What does Mara mean?

We encourage our subscribers to put forward any recommendation of topics and articles revolving around coffee and Africa that is of interest. Shout out to Ben and Vanessa Kirby who were intrigued by the meaning of the word ‘Mara’ and reached out to ask. This one’s for you, thanks for the question, grab a cup of coffee and let’s get to it.

Mara means many things to different people, depending on the language spoken, religious belief or region they reside in. This is the beauty of the world we live in where language and words can change across borders and regions to reflect our diversity and uniqueness.


In Buddhist cosmology (the description of the shape and evolution of the universe according to the Buddhist scriptures and commentaries), Mara is associated with death, rebirth and desire. In Buddhism, it is the demonic celestial king who tempted Prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara's daughters.

It is also a Sanskrit word (a classical language of south Asia), meaning death or a personification of. She is an important deity worshipped by many groups across south Asia. Hinduism describes Mara as the goddess of death and offerings would be placed at her altar. Similarly in Latvian mythology, she is considered the highest ranking goddess.

In Hebrew it means bitter with the implication of strength, not to be confused with anger or resentfulness, whereas in Greek, its meaning is completely different and means eternally beautiful.

Fragment of Mara, found in Swat Valley - Photo Wikipedia

So what else does Mara mean?

  • In Scots Gaelic its means sea
  • In Madagascar it means "of many different stripes”
  • A nightmare, a spectre or wraith-like creature in Germanic and particularly Scandinavian folklore
  • In certain Spanish speaking regions it means one of several organised criminal gangs of central American origin also operating in the US
  • In Swahili it means times (as in how many times)
  • It means ‘but’ in south Africa.


What's in a name?

In the Maasai language, the word Mara means spotted. This resonates deeply with our mission to find, source and deliver to customers, the best coffee from the known and unknown coffee regions across Africa. Our goal is simple, we spot the best speciality coffee grown within various regions in Africa and bring this to the attention of coffee lovers who are tired of average and monotonous coffee. Learn more on our 'About us' page.

To expand on the origin of the word and the meaning to the Maasai tribe, you may have heard of the Maasai Mara in Kenya, voted the eighth wonder of the world back in 2007. Originally established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary to protect wildlife from hunters. It is not a national park but rather a national reserve belonging to the Maasai tribe. It spans 583 square mile and each year the most thrilling, intriguing and spectacular displays of wildlife behaviour plays out there.

The Great Migration, also known as the greatest show on earth is recognised as Africa and the world’s most impressive migration of around 2 million wildebeest, thousands of zebras and gazelles forming one super herd . From July to September each year the Mara welcomes this 500 mile trek from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The exact timing of this natural phenomenon is dependent on rainfall and grass growth. Sir David Attenborough has captured this in many wildlife docu series including the BBC’s aptly named ’The Great Migration’. It is one of nature and the animal kingdom’s most remarkable events and you are truly blessed If you are lucky enough to see this live. If you haven’t watched it, make sure you do, you won’t be disappointed.

So there you have it Mara can mean a number of things depending of where you reside, your beliefs or language you speak. It also has an important meaning to millions of wildlife species in Africa who call it home.

To quote a classic line in William Shakespeares play, Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is a popular reference used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are.

So what does Mara mean to you? It could simply be having a coffee and taking five minutes for yourself to breathe and let go of any stress, anxiety and calm down the brain chatter.

Thanks Ben and Vanessa for the topic suggestion. We hope you have learnt something new about this incredible continent and why we chose the name Mara Coffee. Until next time we bid you adieu.

Baki salama - Stay safe.



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