Navaratri 2018: Bommai Golu or Kolu, The South Indian Doll Arragement During Dussehra and Navratri
Navratri Kolu/Golu decoration (Photo Credits: Instagram, kotthuparotta, jananikrishnamurthy)

It's during festivals like Dussehra and Navaratri that India demonstrates her diversity. When Navratri is welcomed among sounds of dhols and dandiya sticks in the North and West, the south has a rather different way of celebrating. In South Indian households in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Navratri is celebrated by lining up Bommai or dolls on an altar. These dolls are a treat to see, especially after the altar is decorated with lights and decorative fabric.

What Is the Significance of Bommai Golu During Navratri?

Bommai Golu or Kolu in Tamil means “Divine Presence.” The practice is a part of Navratri down south where the arrangement depicts scenes from Ramayana, the Puranas, Dashavataram and other mythological stories. Date & Significance of the Day When Pitru Paksha Ends & Goddess Durga Descends On Earth.

Clay dolls, figurines of gods and goddesses and miniatures of animals, children, food and daily paraphernalia are used in the arrangement of the Bommai Golu. Every year during Dussehra, adults and kids of the household use their creativity to set up the display in the best way possible. The arrangement helps elders and children reacquaint themselves with the legends and lores of the religion. Nine Avatars of Goddess Durga, Navdurga Pictures, Mantras & Celebration Dates of Navratri Festival.

Here are some pictures of Navaratri Golu/Kolu:

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How Are The Dolls Arranged?

Every Dussehra, an altar with multiple steps is set up inside the house. There will be an odd number of steps, anywhere between one and 11, depending upon the number of dolls used. It’s popular to use nine steps as a reference to the nine days of Navratri. The steps are then covered with a cloth and the dolls are arranged on it.

On the first day of Navratri, a Ganpati Puja is performed, followed by pujas for Saraswati, Parvati and Lakshmi. A ceremonial jar known as the Kalash is decorated with mango leaves and a coconut in a ritual known as Kalash Ahvanam. The elderly members in the family perform this ritual.

The Kalash is then placed on the first step, which represents Goddess Durga. Idols of the deities are placed next to the Kalash. List of 9 Colours for Each Date to Wear During Sharad Navaratri Festival.

On the wooden steps of the Kolu altar, the dolls and figures are placed according to their themes and sizes, but there is no particular order to arrange them. These steps may have idols of saints or dolls depicting various aspects of daily life such as marriage, feast, orchestra, temple, etc. The idols of the gods are placed on the topmost rack of the altar.

Dolls of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are mandatory parts of the arrangement. And every year, as a custom, a new doll is added to the arrangement.

How Are the Dolls Worshipped?

The Navratri Golu or Kolu is displayed during the Navratri for three to nine days and the arrangement is worshipped twice every day.

Rice rangolis or kolams are drawn outside the door. Special dishes made of legumes are prepared for the occasion, apart from the sweet dishes and fruits.

Guests are invited home for the Golu festival and are given prasad in the form of fruits, coconuts, flowers, bangles, turmeric and kumkum.

On Amavasya a day before Navratri, people start preparing by setting up the steps for the Golu, and cleaning and decorating the house. Saraswati Puja is performed on the ninth day. In the south, people perform the Ayudha Puja or worship of the tools and instruments, to express one’s gratitude for their services.

On the tenth day, Vijayadashami or the day of victory is celebrated. The day is considered auspicious for learning new things. That’s why, many young children receive their first lessons on this day, where they are made to write the first letter of the alphabet on rice. Vijayadashami also marks the last day of the Golu. So the dolls are symbolically put to sleep and kept away till the next Navratri.