Sunday, November 11, 2012

Festival of Dolls during Navarathri / Dusshehra in South India

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During the festival of Navratri in Southern India, it is customary in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, as well as in some Tamil communities within Sri Lanka, to celebrate the Festival of Dolls.This festival known as Kolu / Golu in Tamil nadu, Bombe Habba in Karnataka and Bommala Koluvu in Andhra Pradesh is celebrated with great pomp and show in South India. This is an exhibition of various dolls and figurines in odd numbered steps (usually 7, 9, or 11).

Kolu or Golu in Tamil means Divine Presence. Kolu represents the divine presence of the Hindu Goddesses Saraswati, Parvati and Laxmi in their houses during Navaratri , meaning Nine nights.


When people come to a person's house to see the Kolu, usually they are given Prasadam (the offering given to God that day), Kumkum and a small bag of gifts. These are only given to girls and married women. In the evenings, a Kuthuvilakku (traditional brass lamp) is lit in the middle of a decorated Kolam / Rangoli, before the Kolu and devotional hymns and Shlokas are chanted. After performing the Puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the goddesses.

Kolu is adorned with dolls – predominantly with that of the gods and goddesses depicting Hindu mythology. It is a traditional practice to have at least some wooden dolls. There should also be a figurine of a boy and a girl together called Marapacchi Bommai.

The 10th day, Vijayadashami – is the most auspicious day of all. In the evening of Vijayadasami, any one doll from the Kolu is symbolically put to sleep and the Kalasam is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year's Navaratri Kolu. Prayers are offered to thank God for the successful completion of that year's Kolu and with the hope of a successful one the next year. Then the Kolu is dismantled from the steps and packed up for the next year.

Here are some pictures of this colourful ,delightful festival.

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