April 14, 2008

Prayer Beads

Posted in Devotionals, Goddess Things tagged , , , at 8:28 pm by Babs

Set of Japa mala, made from Tulasi wood, with head bead in foreground.

Scholars agree that the prayer beads originated with the Hindu faith.  It is possible that the use of beads for devotion dates back to the eighth century BCE in the cult of Siva.  Sandstone sculptures in India, from 185 BCE, show Hindu sages holding prayer beads.  These Hindu prayer beads are called mala.  


The number of beads on a prayer strand varies from 32 to 108.  Mantras are often repeated hundreds or even thousands of times. The mala is used so that one can think about the meaning of the mantra as it is chanted rather than thinking about counting the repetitions. One mantra is usually said for every bead, turning the thumb clockwise around each bead, though some traditions or practices may call for counterclockwise or specific finger usage. When arriving at the head bead, one turns the mala around and then goes back in the same direction. This makes using the mala easier as the beads will not be so tight on the string when you use them.


Call them Malas, Prayer Beads or Rosaries – they are common in most religions around the world.  Whatever your path, make your own keeping in mind that they are tactile and the materials you use should call to you. 


-Blessed Be!

1 Comment »

  1. Debi said,

    Hi B,

    My coven actually did a subject 2 weekends ago on Mayla beads and Chanting using them. It was my first experience with them and want to make my own set. Although I don’t want to make a huge set, I heard you can make a 4 strand bracelet to cover the number of 108. I have to admit I totally lost the concentration after about 60 chants, I am learning over and over again of how impatient I actually am.

    Awesome topic, I’m thinking Im gonna need a blogspot too!

    Bright Blessings and Many Hugs,

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