A mala is a string of beads used for prayer. Using beads for prayer as a meditation tool dates back beyond written history. Mala beads are found in almost every spiritual and religious practice and are also known as prayer beads, rosary beads and worry beads. Over two-thirds of the world’s population employ some type of prayer beads as part of their spiritual practice.
The oldest known form of the prayer bead is the Japa Mala used in Hindu prayer, which appears to have originated in India around the 8th century B.C. Based on the principle of the sacred number 108, malas have 108 beads or a divisible of that number: 54 or 27 beads. They are usually strung on silk thread with knots between each bead to maintain consistent space between each bead.