Oct 18, 2007

Bommai Kolu

During Navratri, it is a tradition in many homes in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to arrange a "kolu". This is like an exhibition of various dolls in odd numbered steps ("padis"). The kolus could be the elaborate, extravagant ones to the simple, traditional and artistic ones. It is important that the Navarathri Kolu is set up with an odd number ofsteps (usually 7, 9, or 11). Some homes have the tradition of keeping a “Kalasam”. Kalasam is a brass or silver pot filled with water and adorned with mango leaves. A "kuthuvilakku" (lamp) is lit, "kolam"(Rangoli) are made before the Kolu and devotional hymns and slokas are chanted. After performing poojas, the food items that have been prepared, are offered to the Goddesses.
Girls and ladies are invited and they are given prasad (the offering given to God that day), kumkum (red powder), and a small bag of gifts usually containing a mirror, a comb, a small box of kumkum, and fruits. This is also called tamboolam. This is a woman's festival. Celebration of being a woman :)
The dolls kept in the Kolu are mostly those of the Gods and Goddesses depicting mythology. Common ones being Dasavatharam, Ashta Lakshmi. Ramar Pattabhishekam, Meenakshi Thirukalyanam, Murugan and Valli, Krishna in Aayarpaadi etc. A wooden pair of doll (Marapaachi - a pair of a boy and girl), are also kept as these dolls indicate fertility. Kolu does not mean that the dolls are kept only on the steps. Themes such as marriage, school, park, zoo add to the fun and creativity.
On the 9th day (Saraswathi Pooja), books and musical instruments are placed in the pooja and worshipped. Tools are also placed in the pooja - as part of "Ayudha Pooja". Vehicles are washed and decorated, and poojas are performed for them.The 10th day - "Vijayadasami" - is the most auspicious day of all. New ventures and any event started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity. Children are made to write their first alphabet on this day -also called Vidya- Arambham. New art like music, dance etc are started. Proper respect and guru dakshina is offered to the teachers.
At night, after Arti, any one doll is symbolically put to sleep and the Kalasam is moved a bit towards North. The next day, the golu is dismantled and packed up for the next year, and believe me this is the toughest job. Its easy setting the Kolu up but packing is difficult.

So, here I summed the 9 days, that signify so much. Let me know if I missed something.All said and done, I am yet to figure out why the dolls are worshipped and why only on odd number of steps. Answers from anyone?

11 comments:

aargee October 18, 2007 at 6:08 PM  

very nicely summed up. But I am sorry, I don't have the answers. If I come to know, will let you know :)

Fuzzylogic October 19, 2007 at 9:14 AM  

I loved the way you summarized the whole thing. My grandmom used to religiously go through the whole steps of keeping the dolls every navrathri infact it used to be one highpoint for us kids to brag around the street as to how ours was the best:)But I am not aware of all the fine points in that. Boy!you made me miss home though:(

dame's diary October 19, 2007 at 12:39 PM  

Nice write-up.

Bommai kolu is new to me. I am having fun here in Chennai.

BTW nice kolu :)

Lavs October 19, 2007 at 3:32 PM  

That was a beautiful summary about Navarathri “Gollu”. I will ask my mom and patti the reason behind dolls-worship and odd number of steps.

WhatsInAName October 20, 2007 at 1:23 PM  

Aargee :
Thank you :)

Fuzzy :
Well, I am trying to maintain the festival, even though it gets hectic at times, with job in hand.

Dame :
Thanks to you too :)

Lavs :
Yes, please do let me know as I have not got any satisfactory answers yet

Just Like That October 20, 2007 at 7:56 PM  

Wow, Win, the pics in the last post were very nice. Its a lot of work, isn't it?
My neighbour upstairs calls me every year. And yeah, she too jokes that it is about the only time I visit her!!
I admire you for taking the pains and effort to do all this in the midst of all else you have to do. Hats off, girl!
And Happy Navratri to you! :-)

Usha October 22, 2007 at 4:40 PM  

The festival is mainly for the girl children - perhaps the dolls were atrranged to make it interesting for them. They give the bride a box full of dolls at the time of the wedding - so there may be nostalgia value too?
Perhaps the nine steps represent the 9 days that Goddess Durga fought for?
All this is my guess.:)

WhatsInAName October 23, 2007 at 3:02 PM  

JLT :)
Thank you for being here always! and yeah I hope I can make atleast this much effort every year!

Usha :)
Thank you too. Your guess does make a lot of sense. Nostalgic value, yes I agree. And maybe the 9 days slowly evolved into any odd number of steps. Hmmm... interesting :)

Anonymous,  September 22, 2009 at 1:45 PM  

Check this link for the significance of golu
http://indiwo.in.com/india/features/design-home/golus-for-navratri/19461/0

Anonymous,  February 3, 2010 at 10:16 PM  

ups sorry delete plz [url=http://duhum.com].[/url]

Bharathi October 15, 2013 at 8:34 PM  

hi, Check out my blog.. for one of the reasons as to why navarathri is celebrated and why we keep kolu

http://randomthoughtsandchronicles.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-is-navarathri-celebrated.html

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