Tibetan people believe in Lamaism. The believers must recite or chant Buddhism scriptures very often. For illiterate people, what they can do is to turn prayer wheels, with scriptures inside. Turning the prayer wheel is equivalent to chanting some scriptures and it has become routine work for Tibetan people. A lot of Tibetans keep portable prayer wheels at home. Prayer wheels are of different sizes and quality. But there is one thing in common, that is they all have scriptures inside. Followers of Yellow sect turn the wheel clockwise, while followers of Black sect turn it counter clockwise.
Prayer wheels, called Mani Khorlo in Tibetan, are very common religious objects in Tibet. A hand held prayer wheels is a hollow wooden or metal cylinder attached to a handle. Om Mani Padme Hung mantras are printed or etched in relief on the cylinder. Attached to the cylinder is a lead weight with a chain, which facilitates the rotation. Tibetans use prayer wheels to spread spiritual blessings to all sentient beings and invoke good karma in their next life. They believe that every rotation of a prayer wheel equals one utterance of the mantra, thus the religious practice will in return help them accumulate merits, replace negative effects with positive ones, and hence bring them good karma. The religious exercise is part of Tibetan life. People turn the wheel day and night while walking or resting, whenever their right hands are free while murmuring the same mantra. Buddhists turn the wheel clockwise. Bon followers turn the wheel counter clockwise.
Prayer wheels vary in size and type. Not all of them are hand held. It is common for bucket-sized prayer wheels to be lined up on wooden racks along walking paths circling monasteries and other sacred sites, for the benefit of visiting pilgrims. Larger water, fire, and wind prayer wheels are built so that they are empowered by the flowing water, the flaming light, and the blowing wind which drive them, and can later pass their positive karma to all who touch them.