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The World of Rosaries

Ravi Jose is one of the leading dealers of rosaries in Koonammavu, the nursery of rosary-making in Kerala, as well as India
Photo by Mithun Vinod 
By Shevlin Sebastian
Fr. Sanal Lawrence D’Souza is like a kid in a toy shop. At the La Coruna Del Rosario shop at Koonammavu, 17 kms from Kochi, he picks up numerous rosaries, Bibles, sepulchers, candles, key chains, statues of Jesus Christ, as well as Crucifixes. The jean-clad priest has come from the St. Theresa’s Church at Mahe, 240 kms away. “We have a feast coming up in October for our saint,” says Fr. D’Souza. “Lakhs of people are expected to attend. So I am buying all this stuff to be sold there.”
And the man who is selling the material is Ravi Jose, who is one of the leading dealers of rosaries in Koonammavu, which is regarded as the home of rosary-making in Kerala, as well as India.

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The business of making prayer beads

Koonammavu is a small village on the NH 17 a few kilometers to the north of Kochi. This village, however, is on the global business map, thanks to a cottage industry – rosary-making.

People of Koonammavu proudly call their village ‘little Rome’ as it ships the prayer beads all over India and abroad. “Wherever there are Christians, there are rosaries from Koonammavu,” claims Ravi Jose Thannikot, who owns a shop that sells rosaries and other items of religious use.

Mr. Thannikot is one of Koonammavu’s many entrepreneurs who procures beads, thread and wire from parts of North India and supplies them to women in the village. The women return finished rosaries for a pay and these are sold locally or exported by him. Mr. Thannikot says around 2,000 women from Koonammavu and surrounding areas bring him finished rosaries. Twelve women are employed full-time on his staff too.