The Sanskrit word "mala" means "garland." A mala is a string of beads used to count repetitions in Buddhist practices--prostrations, recitations of mantras, names of the Buddha. Sometimes it is simply a reminder to be aware. The traditional number of beads in a mala is 108. The beads themselves, made from variety of seeds, wood, and semiprecious stones, are worn around the neck or wrapped in coils around the wrist.