Bommai Kolu – Navratri

Navratri is major festival of India celebrated in all parts of country for 9 nights and 10 days. The festive Pooja is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her different forms.

Poojas are done for these nine days celebrating the victory of Goddess Durga over demon   Mahishasura . Every day Pooja is done praising each avatar wearing particular color.

In south India – during these nine days with ladies perform Pooja for Goddess and arrange beautiful bommai display, called as different names as Bommai Kou –Tamil Nadu (divine presence) ; Bommala Koluvu  – Telugu (Court of Toys) & Bombe Habba-  Kannada (doll festival).

We arrange the dolls on Mahalaya Amavasai in odd steps (3,5, 7 , 9 or 11).  These steps are depicted are evolution ladder we are travelling through journey of life  The Kolu padi is covered with fabric and various dolls depicting Puranas, court life, royal procession, day to day scenes, wedding, kitchen utensils, animals , farming , etc. are arranged.

It’s a traditional practice to have wooden dolls called “Marapacchi Bommai” figurines of bride and bridegroom. In some homes they do pass Dolls to their daughter’s during their marriage, so they can start practicing Golu celebration for Navratri.

Kalasam/Copper pot filled with rice and is covered with coconut is placed in either lower or upper step based on tradition of each family. Idols of Gods and Goddess are published either side of Kalasam. Golu can be kept for odd days 3, 5 , 7 or 9 based on their convenience.

In evenings women invite ladies from their friend’s circle and neighborhood to view kolu. They exchange sweets and gifts. Shlokas and songs are chanted praising God and Goddess, by ladies and young girls. 

Theme arrangement:

Instead of arranging dolls randomly few families try to step up their Kolu every year in a particular theme such as different sports(cricket football, tennis basketball etc in dolls), people around us (hospital, fire station, farming, school, street dancing, etc) or may be different types of wedding from various states and cultures (Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil culture etc ).

Nowdays various magazines and mass media are conducting competition for best Golu display. Not only at homes Golu’s are displayed in larger size in (21 steps) temples too !

Living in USA far from home but I make a point to follow these traditions as my daughter tend to learn and follow these in future. So moms of insta generation please do follow the traditions make sure nothing is lost! These are treasures need to be preserved.


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