Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Festival : Navaratri Golu : Celebrated In South India



“Golu” in Tamil, also known as Kolu, is a unique display of various dolls and figurines in odd numbered steps (“padis”). It is celebrated in this manner in the four southern states of India. These steps are covered with a white cloth and the dolls are arranged on it. The dolls are mostly of the gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology.
Arranging Navrathri Golu is an event in itself, for it means an occasion for neighbours, friends and other relatives to visit each others homes to view and admire the Navarathri Golu . Gifts are exchanged amongst women. Generally, it is a custom that women exchange coconuts, cloths and sweets. Sumangali (married) women also exchange bags containing a small mirror, turmeric, comb, beetle leaves with supari (beetle nuts).This is also the time when women who sing well, sing songs in praise of the Goddesses Durga, Sarawati and Lakshmi.
The 9th day of Navratri is the day of Saraswati where special pujas are offered to Goddess- representing wisdom and enlightenment. All things of art and learning, books, instruments and creativity are placed in the puja and worshipped. Work tools and instruments are also worshipped and this is known as Ayudha puja. All types of ‘vahanas’ –vehicles–also have a special puja.

The 10th day is known “Vijayadasami” – and considered most auspicious because this is when evil was destroyed by good. It represents new beginning and heralds prosperity. It is an extremely auspicious day to start new ventures. Children often start classes on this day. Students who want to learn new things join classes on this day. Books and musical instruments are taken out to be read and practice, so that the whole year they excel at the studies started on this auspicious day. People in industry start using their tools and machinery with same positive attitude.
On the 10th night after the ceremonial arti and prayers, the dolls are laid down to sleep. The next morning, they are wrapped carefully in cloth or paper and preserved for use the next year. Another novel trend is the concept of `community kolus’, when many women, unable to keep kolu in their homes, join hands and put up a Navratri kolu in a common place.
Every year, some enthusiastic people may buy a few new dolls to add to their collection, others may just keep the old sets, which they have had for generations. Decorations also vary, some are very elaborate, where they would build displays of mountains,rivers, lake, garden, parks etc. with all kinds of colourful lights, making their Golu really stand out where as some houses may have a very simple and traditional display of dolls.
This nine-day festival of Navaratri in Hindu religion is held in honour of the nine manifestations of Goddess. Navratri literally means nine nights and is celebrated differently in different regions of India and marks the arrival of winter season. Every day a dish called Sundal is made as an offering to the Goddess and the dolls. This Sundal is made from different lentils like chickpeas, yellow peas, black-eyed beans and so on, with coconut gratings, green chillies, flavoured with salt, asafoetida, lemon juice, and some fresh curry leaves and fresh coriander, and sometimes if available also with a dash of raw mangoes. This is a very tasty, highly nutritious dish, which is enjoyed by everyone.
Like most festivals in India, there is a deep connection with agriculture in the Golu Navaratri.  The significance of clay being given a godly form is seen in many parts of India, almost always with agrarian symbolism.





31 comments:

  1. nice clicks!! I love the doll arrangements :)thanks for sharing this

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  2. i used to look fwd to this festival as a child....your golu is so beautiful :)

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  3. What a beautiful, colorful event. Love it!

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  4. What a beautiful, colorful event. Love it!

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  5. Beautiful pictures. I found out about Golu recently and wrote a post on it last year - when I found out about it. One of my best friend is from Karantaka. He and his wife celebrate it. We are going to there house on Saturday.

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  6. Yes, I've been exposed to this unique way of celebration since I came to Bangalore. It is quite interesting to see dolls in people's houses. But what is the significance of arranging dolls during Navratri? Is there a religious or a cultural connection?

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  7. Rachna:

    One theory says the dolls, called Kollu or Golu, represents the durbar or assembly of Goddess Durga. This assembly is held just before Mother Goddess ventures on her mission to slay Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon. It could also mean that, it is merely a social event that encourages the artisans who make those beautiful clay dolls.
    This the answer one would find in the internet, and also when asking people about the significance of the dolls.
    Whatever, maybe the reason it is a joy to take out carefully packed and stored dolls every year and think of ways and means of displaying them. These dolls are really old handed down from generations, so that also adds to the joy.

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  8. Please also check out the blog on Navaratri from fellow blogger Amrit: http://arealblogger.blogspot.com/2010/06/doll-festival.html

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  9. Rama, that is a wonderful display! It must have been a lot of work, but it gives so much of happiness just to look at them! Hey, my favourite thatha n pati are sitting too!

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  10. beautiful display!!.I love this tradition in sout and hope that it never goes away with the western winds..its so festive to see such elaborate golu's here.

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  11. Beautiful Golu .I came to know about this tradition last year through blogger .Wonderful,wonderful tradition .Someday i would like to arrange one at my home too during Navratris.Really want to collect these beautiful dolls and figurines.

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  12. beautiful collection! one of my favorite festival. This is one of the socio-religious and cultural festival that binds us all.

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  13. beautiful pictures .. I want ot be in india .. ahmedabad now and enjoy the navratri's there



    Bikram's

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  14. it looks good....i am going to show this to my daughter who has got a good collection of dolls now...:))

    THanks for sharing...!!

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  15. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Lovely pictures, Rama! Very simple and elegant golu. Reminded of my childhood golus where we used to dress up in pattu pavadais and visit golus, eat sundal and dance:))) Thanks for the share:)

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  17. Oh, what a gorgeous display Rama, I enjoyed learning more about the festival too:)

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  18. Rama you said u arranged a simple Golu. This is far from simple. Very beautiful and brought back memories from home. I for one has never arranged this in Norway. Getting inspired but then I will have to add dolls from around the world to fill the steps. It will then be a global golu :-) We in telugu call it Bommala Koluvu.

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  19. The team and I have been invited to a new co-worker's home who is from Southern India to view her Golu. What would be appropriate gift or gifts give as a to her and her husband? After reading more about Navratri I thought we could have flowers for her to decorate her work space with on the ninth day, but not sure which ones would not be offensive. If this is a good idea what flowers are best? Thoughts and opinions are greatly needed and appreciated.
    Comment posted by Anonymous

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  20. Sure you can give flowers to her.

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  21. loved reading and the photos.thank you for sharing

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  22. Wow..very interesting...love the whole post..so informative..
    thanks for sharing.

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  23. Simply beautifully captured shots...lovely pics of the festival.

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  24. You have arranged so nicely and the pix are so captivating that could not leave without commenting.
    I think this was one of the seasons for socializing. Meaning that women would visit each others homes for haldi, kumkum, admire each others golu and that would be the only time they would get to socialise.

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  25. I did not knew about golu...thanks for all the info. your collection and display is amazing.

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  26. This was a very informative post. Thanks! Am planning on setting up my first golu this year. Can't wait to see what yours will look like next month.

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  27. Wonderful photos and nice gulu! This year's Navratri festival and I am so excited to see what will be your gulu appearance this time. Cheers!

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  28. These are absolutely fantastic!! Thank you so much!
    Return Gifts | Navratri Return Gifts

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  29. Nice Blog. Navratri puja brings you victory and helps to keep the positive vibes around you. Duga the divine goddess protects the devotees from fear.

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