The auspicious coconut

India has a lot of traditions and rites commemorating the country and its rich culture. The word “nariyal” (coconut) is synonymous with almost all holy functions. Considered the beginning of rituals, performers usually break a coconut for good blessings and luck. Every year thousands of devout followers and pilgrims offer millions of coconuts in good spirits. This sanctity of this fruit diminishes as soon as it is offered and it soon becomes useless. Similarly, millions of coconut shells end up as waste. These are often neglected as harmless due to being biodegradable. 

A stack of coconuts
A stack of coconuts outside a temple ready to be offered


Maria Kuriakose and her brilliant idea

Maria Kuriakose
Maria Kuriakose


A resident from Thrissur, Kerala Maria Kuriakose had her moment of eureka when she came up with her brilliant idea. She had a sudden realization about the sheer amount of coconut scrap all around her. Whether it is the local waste from houses or the amassed dumps from coconut oil mills. The amount of coconut shell being discarded is indeed enormous.

Inspired by the huge quantity of the coconut shell being discarded she had a unique idea. Maria turned her idea into a venture when she started her company “thenga” ( coconut ).

The whole premises of the business is to strictly be as eco friendly as possible. Refurbishing and modeling out discarded coconut shells into amazing pieces of art and décor. 

Her father Kuriakose Varoo, a retired mechanical engineer helped her cut on costs. He engineered a low cost scrubbing machine to scalp out coconuts and flatten the shells. The machine constructed from his inspiration from the internet and industry knowledge proved really sufficient. It was now possible to finish out coconut cups and bowls at a really cost and thus the story of ‘Thenga’ began.

The business took off in the following weeks and order started to stack. Maria along with her parents continued to run the venture which at this point had become a family effort. 


Maria realizing the success of the venture wanted to spread her efforts. She wanted to expand from just a business venture and explore more into new ideas. Maria consulted some local artisans and explained her idea to them. Piqued by her innovative idea 10 artisans immediately agreed to her plan.

Thenga from coconut shell

Thenga immediately caught wind and her idea sailed. The artisans already equipped with machinery were instructed to use eco-friendly means. Even the polishing was done from natural coconut oil than chemicals. The venture after successfully selling bowls, now sells products as ladles, glasses, cups and even gardening pots.

Thenga is a unique and self-sufficient idea that benefits from and promote nature:

Read about more such change-makers:

Dr. Minal Kabra earns 33 Lakh a year by selling ‘solar-baked vegan cookies’ | Change Makers 

VRIKSHIT FOUNDATION: a hope for change

The “House of Hope” and its sustainable story

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