A japamala, jaap maala, or simply mala (Sanskrit: माला; mālā, meaning ‘garland’) is a loop of prayer beads commonly used in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism for counting recitiations when performing japa (reciting a mantra or other sacred sound) or for counting some other sadhana (spiritual practice) such as prostrating before a holy icon

They are similar to other forms of prayer beads used in various world religions and are sometimes referred to in English as a “rosary”

The main body of a mala is usually 108 beads of roughly the same size and material as each other though smaller versions, often factors of 108 such as 54 or 27, exist

A distinctive 109th “guru bead”, not used for counting, is very common

Mala beads have traditionally been made of a variety of materials such as wood, stone, seeds, bone and precious metals—with various religions often favouring certain materials—and strung with natural fibres such as cotton, silk, or animal hair

Mala can nowadays be found which are made from synthetic materials (such as plastic or glass beads, and nylon cords whether braided string or monofilament)