Photographer's Note

An old woman reciting her prayers with the help of her rosary under the protection of the Dalai Lama, whose small and old photo on her medalion is always close to her heart.

The buddhist rosary, mala or threngwa is a set of beads commonly used by Buddhists, usually made from 108 beads. They are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra (prayer) or the name or names of a deity.
Mantras are typically repeated hundreds or even thousands of times. The mala is used so that one can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra rather than counting its repetitions. One repetition is usually said for each bead while turning the thumb clockwise around each bead, though some traditions or practices may call for counterclockwise motion or specific finger usage. When arriving at the head bead, one turns the mala around and then goes back in the opposing direction. This makes using the mala easier as the beads will not be so tight on the string when you use them.
Often, practitioners add extra counters to their malas, usually in strings of ten. These may be positioned differently depending on the tradition. This is an alternative way to keep track of large numbers, sometimes going into the hundreds of thousands, and even millions.

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