Mala Rosary Prayer Beads in Sikhism

Sikhism Steel Mala Rosary Prayer Beads
Sikhism Steel Mala Rosary Prayer Beads.

S Khalsa

Mala is a term used for a rosary, or prayer beads, worn on the neck, or wrist, and counted with the fingers.

In Sikhism, a mala may be used during the practice of naam simran to focus on or keep count of, repetitions of:

Types of Malas

Sikhs use a variety of malas. Some contain a specific number of small prayer beads and one large bead to mark the completion of one count of the rosary. Others have an arbitrary number of prayer beads. The number 108 is considered by some to represent infinity because 108 and its derivatives, such as 27, are divisible by nine (as per the old school method of casting out nines), however, there is no superstition, or ritual attached to the number of prayer beads on any mala in Sikhism. The prayer beads of a mala are only meant to encourage remembrance of the divine through the practice of prayer, meditation, and recitation of holy scripture.

A mala may be a rigid metal ring strung with prayer beads, a rosary like a chain of steel, or iron, prayer beads, or be made of sandalwood, or plastic prayer beads resembling ivory, and strung on yarn, or heavy thread, with a tuft tied as a marker:

  • Chain - A long mala may have 108, or other numbers of steel, or iron, prayer beads and is worn or carried looped over one shoulder. A short mala may be worn looped over the wrist like a bracelet, perhaps carried in a pocket, or kept in a pouch when not in use.
  • Rigid - A rigid steel mala with steel, or iron, prayer beads all of one size may have may have 58, 18, 10, 7, or any other number of beads. A mala with 27 small steel, or iron, prayer beads have one large bead as a marker. Malas may be worn on the turban, wrist, or finger, depending on size and number of beads.

Pronunciation: Maa - laa

Alternate Spellings: Maalaa

Examples of Prayers

"Har har akhar du-e eh maalaa ||
Lord Lord these two words are my prayer beads.
Japat japat bha-e deen dai-aalaa ||1||
Reciting reciting this rosary, the Lord becomes merciful to this poor one.
Karo benatee satigur apunee ||
I offer prayer to the True Guru.
Kar kirpaa raakhu saranaaee mo ko dehu harae har japnee ||1|| rehaao ||
Mercifully protect and give me the rosary of God's name. Pause.
Har maalaa our antar dhaarai ||
Wear the rosary of God's name in the heart.
Janam maran kaa dookh nivaarai ||2||
Suffer not the pains of birth and death." SGGS||388

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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "Mala Rosary Prayer Beads in Sikhism." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2020, August 26). Mala Rosary Prayer Beads in Sikhism. Retrieved from Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "Mala Rosary Prayer Beads in Sikhism." Learn Religions. (accessed March 28, 2023).