A strand of beads, mala, is used during mantra meditation, japa, to count the number of mantras chanted. For example, it is common for devotees of Krishna to chant the Hare Krishna mantra while fingering each bead, gradually progressing along the strand, completing one round of japa (108 mantras) in about 7-10 minutes. (Serious practitioners chant a fixed number of rounds of japa each day.) The strand consists of one hundred and eight individually hand-carved, smooth beads made of wood from the sacred Tulasi plant. More about how to use the beads...
This strand of beads is about 38" long (or about 76" around). The length may vary due to the size of the beads. The beads are up to 5/8" in diameter. This style of japa mala is made from beads that have been smoothed and rounded for comfort.
Tulasi is a soft, fibrous wood that can crack if exposed to excessive humidity, water, or a lot of direct heat and sunlight. It is popular for users to oil their Tulasi beads prior to use, and to keep them clean and dry. Serious practitioners respect their japa mala beads and avoid taking them into unclean environments such as restrooms, as well as avoid touching the beads to the floor. Traditionally they are kept and used in a cloth japa "bead bag", also available.