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Ritu honors Hinduism and Buddhism with a glistening jap mala that is crafted by hand with rudraksha or ganitrus seeds. Also known as prayer beads or rosary, it consists of 108 malas or beads, sometimes 109, which are flicked with the thumb during jap or meditation. That way the person may concentrate fully on repeating mantras. In Buddhism, the 108 beads represent the human passions, while in Hinduism their symbolism is more complex. The number may refer to the names of Vishnu and Shiva in the Mahabharat; the 108 Upanishads; the number of deities of knowledge and various sciences; and the various permutations of the soul's defects, amongst others.
According to Hindu custom, the correct way to hold the jap mala is with the right hand, draped over the middle finger and using the thumb to flick through the beads. Since it is believed the index finger represents ego, the greatest impediment to self-realization, it is best avoided when chanting on a mala.
Rudraksha is a large evergreen broad-leaved tree whose seed traditionally used for prayer beads in Hinduism. Preparing the seed beads must be carried out in a particular way. After the seed is left to dry in the sun, the skin and pulp are removed. The seeds must then be further cured by soaking in various precious oils, including almond oil mixed with musk, and oil from sacred trees. Finally, the prepared beads are roasted in the smoke of a sacred fire in which seven different sacred woods have been consumed. Afterwards, ghee may be used to harden the beads and black ash from the fire may be rubbed into the seeds as well.