TulsiThe pesto sauce you put on your pasta comes from a basil plant closely related to India's sacred tulsi bush. Followers of Vishnu, the Hindu god revered for his goodness and mercy, use tulsi malas, the beads of which are made from the upper root and stem of the dried plant.

You don't have to be Hindu to connect with this plant, just someone who appreciates the glorious web of cross-cultural connections. The Greeks, for instance, bring sprigs of basil to church to be blessed—on St. Basil's Day—which they use to purify their homes and to ensure health for the year.

Dharma Beads: Making and Using Your Own Buddhist Malas
Joanna Arettam (2000) Journey Editions; Tuttle Publishing