"What is the meaning of the beads that the monks wear?"
They look pretty.
Did you expect anything more than that?
Actually, some of the monks use them like we, well, like you, use rosary beads. They hold onto each individual one while they chant their sutras. Some of the people in the village wear them because they think it brings good luck.
But, you gotta believe. No believe, no luck. I questioned Shi De Cheng whether I should get myself a set of those beads so that I could get some good luck. God knows I need it.
He just laughed.
And, oh, another tidbit of absolutely useless trivia. There are 108 beads on the large set, that they wear around their necks, and 18 beads on the small set, that they wear around their wrists. And yes, I counted every damn one of them. The things I do for you people.
If you really want to impress the girl next door, just for your information, they're called "Mala", pronounced, "ma - la". It means "Buddha beans". And if you really want to impress people, you can tell them that a good deal of them are made in Fuzhou, in Fukien province, pronounced "foo - joe", in "foo - kee - en". Careful how you pronounce it.