the mar bari story

My vision for Mar Bari sparked while a kind-eyed Turkish woman was scrubbing me down EVERYwhere in a sea of Judas tree-scented bubbles gazing up at the glass pattern in the giant dome in the Ayasofya Hurrem. I made a pilgrimage to Istanbul’s 533 year old continuously operating bathhouse in the summer of 2019. In that moment, I felt deep in my bones, and saw in my mind’s eye, Mar Bari, a place to heal globally, and be locally.

The Mar Bari: multicultural bath | art | tea house provides elemental healing, hydro-therapy services, creative space, and plant medicine to cultivate community wellness and individual well being.

The center of Mar Bari's compass lies in the creation of a multicultural indoor/outdoor bathhouse, inspired by an amalgamation of bathhouse traditions and healing practices - such as the hammams of Turkey, sentōs of Japan, jjimjilbang of Korea, and Ayurvedic healing principles from my own ancestral lineage of Bengal. Hundreds of years of wisdom of the earth's elemental alchemy will be employed - particularly the power of water. There is tremendous opportunity to meet a deep need for healing while making a profit, in a way that is aligned with values of justice and sustainability. Particularly in the aftermath of COVID, a need for community-oriented healing will be necessary more than ever.

Seeing healing as a holistic and continuous process - Mar Bari's work will not be a linear, traditionally run single-service business. In addition to the bathhouse, the art/tea house will provide a "creative third space" for connection, expression, and community care. It is unusual for these elements (bath, art, tea) being placed all in the same business, especially community settings or urban environments in the USA. Spas and hot spring resorts traditionally cater to wealthy, well-off clientele. Mar Bari directly counters this access divide in wellness and aims to serve, in particular, elders, artists, activists, and academics who're exhausted, stressed and burned out.

My vision is to cultivate communal intergenerational space for healthy rejuvenation and joyful energy in this fragmented world we live in, especially for communities of color in cities with limited access to the healing of living in nature.

Research examining the health effects of music therapy, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression and expressive writing has found clear indications that creative engagement and arts therapy can decrease anxiety, stress and mood disturbances. Research of Nagano snow monkeys, famous for hot spring soaking, found stress hormones declined significantly when they were bathing. And, of course, use of plant medicine through teas and infusions through our ancestral lineages goes back to the beginning of our shared human history. Mar Bari brings all these aspects of elemental healing together.

We believe that nature provides us with sacred magic, we bring her medicines to urban life through elemental alchemy: combining the water of the baths, the fire and earth of the teas, and the air and ether of creativity. Mar Bari is committed to sustainable abundance practices, we believe there IS enough for all with consciousness and care. We will model how to live in balance with our mother earth through every step in building this business with regenerative economic principles in mind.

We will share our spaces and services always with deep love for community.

"Mar Bari" means "Ma's house" in Bengali. Mar also means sea in Spanish, the ocean, our common mother. This double meaning is intentional as it places an emphasis to model harmony and balance with each other and nature as essential for survival amidst climate chaos.

Mar Bari is literally mother earth's house, a place to replenish and cherish, while honoring her.

- Jayeesha Dutta, Founder and CEO

December 21, 2020