Way back, in 2009, a family wedding pulled me away in the fine month of December, to Kolhapur, a city steeped in history. The bastion of Maratha history, it is a photographer’s delight, full of colour and fine imagery. Once an agrarian town, now, a city bustling with industry. But history is in its spirit, always. When you seek bits of history, they are available to you, everywhere.
One such bit that caught my attention was a standard measure, called a Sher (शेर) that was being cleaned and polished for a wedding ritual. When the bride enters the groom’s residence for the first time, she strikes inward, a Sher, full of grain (usually Rice) at the threshold with her right foot (thumb, if you care for the finer details). This ritual is called “Maap Olandne” (माप ओलांडणे), loosely translated, “Crossing the Threshold (or Measure, literally)”. It signifies the ushering of wealth and food (धन, धान्य) by virtue of her entry. I believe, this is a common tradition followed in most Maharashtrian weddings.
My focus however, is the Sher.
This particular Sher was made in the year 1910 and has a rhomboidal inscription, each corner displaying म श्री छ प on it (M, Shri, Chh, P). This stands for महाराज श्रीमंत छत्रपाती परवाना (Maharaj Shrimant Chhatrapati Parwana). It’s the seal of the king, and was perhaps completely in copper.
So how much is a Sher?
1 Sher = 1.25kgs, so
4 Sher = 5kgs, which is also known as a Payli (पायली)
Other related Sher terminology:
1/2 a Sher = 1 Mapta (मापटं)
1/4 a Sher – 1 Chipta (चिपटं)
1/2 a Chipta = 1 Kolwa (कोळवं)