Used for the recitation of mantras. The Mala in Sanskrit means garland, necklace or rosary, (Hindu and Budhist.)
In Buddhism, it accompanies the Buddhist during his prayers, and is used to count mantra recitations. Between the grains of the mala are sometimes inserted four markers called chaturmaharaja, larger beads or symbolic pendants (vajra or gantha). The mala can be made of wood, glass, semi-precious stones or bone. It is made up of 108 grains or seeds which signify the 108 trials that Buddha had to undergo, or the 108 names that he uses.
In Hinduism, rudraksha consists of seeds of various sizes of Elaeocarpus ganitrus. The simple fact of wearing this Mala on oneself, in Hinduism, would have spiritual virtues. The mâlâ is also a garland of flowers - marigold or jasmine - used for adornment. When it is placed on a divine representation, then it has a devotional character. The manufacture of these mâlâ is the task of specialized craftsmen, the mâlâkâra constituted in caste and mastering what is considered as one of the 64 traditional Indian arts. The word mâlâkâra is also a common surname in Bengal for the craftsmen of this caste.