Mala (a Hindi word meaning "string of beads") Beads are traditionally used as prayer beads in several Eastern traditions; Hindu, Budhism, Islam, and each stone represents a repitition of the practioner's mantra, occasionally earning them the name "Buddhist Rosaries". As their fame and uses in other traditions have spread, they have come to also be called Good Fortune Beads or Power Beads.
The traditonal number of beads (mantra repitions) in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions is 108. Wrist mala beads are usually 27 beads in lengths, or 1/4 of the total round of repitions. The large bead and the end of the strand is called the focal or "guru" bead, and designates the end of the set. Instead of passing over the focal bead, it is tradition to instead reverse the order and go the other direction for the next set of repitions.