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Prayer wheels - Tibetan Buddhist Mani Wheels
Mani wheels (mani-khorlo) are commonly found in areas influenced by Tibetan culture. There are many types of Mani wheels. However, small hand-held wheels are the most common ones. They are made to be spun with one hand.
Buddhist prayer wheels consists of a hollow metal cylindrical wheel. Antique prayer wheels are often decorated traditionally with the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum in Sanskrit on the outside. A wodden/metal handle is mounted on an axle that penetrates the central shaft of the wheel. The rod handle on the central shaft contains a ‘tree of life’ mantra at the core and is surrounded by tightly wounded scrolls with mantras. Thousands or even millions of mantras are wrapped around this ‘tree of life’. Om Mani Padme Hum is most commonly used mantra, but mantras of other deities such as Tārā, Guru Rinpoche, or Medicine Buddha are also used.
It is believed that spinning such wheels will have the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers. Another popular belief of these dharma wheels is that, each turning of the wheel by hand is equivalent to the prayer’s oral recitation multiplied by the number of times the mantra is printed on the scroll. Tibetan Buddhist Mani wheels are always spun clockwise, for several reasons: It rotates the syllables of the mantra so that they would pass a viewer in the order that they would be read, it follows the direction of the sun, and it matches the clockwise circumambulation of stupas. However, practitioners of Bon the pre Buddhist spiritual tradition of Tibet, spin their prayer wheels counter-clockwise, the same direction they use in circumambulation.
There are earth, water, fire and wind prayer wheels. A fire prayer wheel is turned by the heat of either a candle or an electric light. Similarly, the wind also moves with the wind force.