While still planning my trip last fall, my sister-in-law, Bindi, told me that she was going to be antique shopping when she went to Kerala. I thought that was a good idea that sounded like fun so, when my husband and I were in Calicut, we did the exact same thing.
Back again on S.M. Street we stopped in at Indian Metals (yes, that is the real name and, no, it is not very original but it is clear) that sold many different types of metal home products. From the brass lanterns, candlesticks and bowls to aluminum pots, this store was crowded from floor to ceiling with merchandise.
After we entered the shop, we asked the salesman if he had any paras. A para is a fairly large container (looks like a bucket) that was used to measure rice over a hundred years ago when farmers took their crops to market. I am told that each one would hold about 15 pounds of paddy. They are no longer used for measuring rice since India adopted the metric system. Paras had additional uses as well. They would be filled with rice at the end of harvest and used as an offering to the gods. Also, they are filled with rice and topped with a few flowers to welcome important guests to one’s home. The original paras were made from a single hollowed out piece of wood and decorated with bands of brass around the top and bottom for support. Today they are made out of brass.
The salesman showed us several versions of the modern brass paras in various sizes but only had one antique. I deliberated for quite a while because the modern ones looked like really good quality brass that I would be proud to display in my house. Finally we decided to buy the antique one because it was so lovely and unique.
Now we head to Wayanad for coffee, tea and an elephant…
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