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Prayer beads are looped strands of wood, stone, berries, or glass beads that are used for chanting or recitation of prayers, hymns, or meditations. Practically, they allow the devotee to keep count of the repetition of prayer without losing focus on the prayer itself. Often prayer beads are held as sacred, and the number of beads relates to a tradition's theology: Muslim prayer beads—misbaha—for example, have 99 beads representing the 99 names of God.

Although the use of beads for religious practice is believed to have its earliest roots in India, the practice is global, and humanity has invariably tended toward iteration of prayers in repetition. Mainstream orthopraxy in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism uses prayer beads, as do many new religious movements. On the Indian ...

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