Malas are found throughout the Indian traditions. The Sanskrit word mālā means garland: flowers were traditionally strung together on a continuous loop or thread.
When we speak about Buddhist malas, we refer to strings of beads. Buddhist practitioners use them to count mantra recitations and prayers.
Traditionally, a mala contains 108 beads. We count one hundred beads as the number of recitations, and then we add eight extra beads to make up for the mantras that we may have recited incorrectly.