There are many forms of prayer across many religions. Speaking to divinities has been done through strict religious dogma and through numerous rituals and traditions best suited to be closer to God and for prayers to reach their intended destination. Prayers with the aid of wood beads are one such ritual. There are six major religions that incorporate beads in their prayers including,
Ø Wood Beads in Hinduism
Ø The Bahai Faith
WOOD BEADS IN HINDUISM
Hinduism is one of the first religions that incorporated prayer beads in their prayers. These beads were used during “Japa” or -the repeating of a deity’s name. The prayer beads were used for repetitive prayers, spiritual exercise and for meditation. Most “Mala”- or wooden prayer beads- have 108 beads.
Malas used in Buddhism contain lesser number of beads as compared to Hindu Malas. This makes them easier to hold and pray with especially when making different prostrations. Wood beads are made from the Tulsi plant and, Bodhi tree and Sandal wood. Sometimes, precious stones are added to the beads e.g. Carnelian and Amethyst.
The beads are known as Misbaha in Islam. The names of God in Islam are 99 in number and the beads are therefore 99 in number. However, some prayer beads are 33 in number where the faithful is expected to recite the prayers three times. Most beads are made of wood and it is common to see Muslims reciting prayers using these beads. However, some sections of Islam e.g. Ahmadiyya and Salafi shun the use of these beads claiming that they were not used by early Muslims.
THE BAHAI FAITH
Bahai faith adherents are required to recite a prayer 95 times a day, every day. To aid in doing this, there are prayer beads, 95 in number are usually carried by the faithful. Although it is not a strict requirement for Bahai Faith members to recite this prayer, most recite them religiously. The prayer beads are made from wood.
Sikh Faithfull’s use Malas to recite prayers white quoting verses from the Guru Granth Sahib. Some of the worshippers wear these beads on their clothes and around the waist.
In Christianity, most prayer beads are to be found in the Catholic denomination. Commonly known as the Rosary, the prayer beads are used by millions of Catholics to recite the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer and a Gloria Patri. It is also used to recite the Apostle’s Creed and the Salve Regina. The Rosary is also used for meditation on the mysteries and life of Jesus Christ. Most Rosaries contain 33 beads representing the years of Jesus Christ.