Chapter 3:  Religious and Secular Beads of India, Nepal and Tibet

Ocimum tenuiflorum  L. Holy basil ; Sacred basil  - Lamiaceae

In India the seeds or parts of plants that are associated with particular deities are commonly used in necklaces and rosaries as a means of propitiating them or worn as devotional jewelry. 

Tulsi or holy basil, Ocimum tenuifolium, an herb in the mint family, is the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion.  Because Hindus hold it sacred to the gods Krishna and Vishnu, it is grown in or near almost every Hindu temple and home.

Beads are cut from the stems and made into rosaries.  When children are initiated into the religion of Lord Vishnu at the age of six or seven, a rosary of tulsi is placed around their necks by a priest.  This rosary is worn as an amulet to protect the child.1