(Kodi) Cowry or cowrie, plural cowries, is the common name for a group of small to large sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries. The word cowry is also often used to refer only to the shells of these snails, which overall are often shaped more or less like an egg, except that they are rather flat on the underside. The cowry was the shell most widely used worldwide as shell money. It is most abundant in the Indian Ocean, and was collected in the Maldive Islands, in Sri Lanka, along the Malabar coast, in Borneo and on other East Indian islands, and in various parts of the African coast from Ras Hafun to Mozambique. Cowry shell money was important at one time or another in the trade networks of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia. Cowry shells are also worn as jewelry or otherwise used as ornaments or charms. Before the Spring and Autumn period the cowrie was used as a type of trade token awarding access to a feudal lord’s resources to a worthy vassal. Cowry is used for Lagan Mandap Vidhi (Marriage Vidhi), for various Puja, Havan, etc. Cowry shells are sometimes used in a way similar to dice, e.g., in board games like Pachisi, Ashta Chamma or in divination (cf. Ifá and the annual customs of Dahomey of Benin). A number of shells (6 or 7 in Pachisi) are thrown, with those landing aperture upwards indicating the actual number rolled.
In Nepal cowries are used for a gambling game, where 16 pieces of cowries are tossed by four different bettors (and sub-bettors under them). This game is usually played at homes and in public during the Hindu festival of Tihar or Deepawali. In the same festival these shells are also worshiped as a symbol of Goddess Laxmi and wealth.