Navaratri represents the celebration of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of deity in the form of Shakti [Energy or Power]. Navaratri – Kolu is very popular in South India.
Significance of this festive eve:
First Three Days are dedicated to Goddess Durga (or Kali) in order to destroy all our impurities.
Second Three Days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing her devotees with inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth.
Last Three Days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi, as she is the goddess of wisdom,
In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all the three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship.
In the Southern parts of India (states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh) it is customary to have Bommai Kolu/ Bombe Habba / Bomma Golu (a doll and figurine display festival celebrated) during the festival of Navratri. While in the Northern parts of India (states of Gujarat and Mumbai), a traditional dance of Gujarat called “Garba” (performed using dandiya sticks) is performed by everyone.
On the first day of Navaratri, following Ganapathi pooja, a welcoming ritual is performed for goddesses Saraswati, Parvati and Lakshmi by Hindu ritual called Kalasa Avahanam. This is then followed by building a rack of odd-numbered shelves of Kolu (or Padi) (usually 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11), set up using wooden planks. After the Kolu has been covered with fabric it is then adorned with various dolls, figurines and toys according to their size, with the deities at the top.
The Kolu is predominantly displayed with depictions from Puranas, court life, royal procession, ratha yatra, weddings, everyday scenes, and miniature kitchen utensils, anything a little girl would play with. Most of the wooden toys displayed come from traditional toy-makers in Etikoppaka, Kondapalli, Kinnal and Channapatna. It is a traditional practice to have wooden figurines of the bride and groom together, called ‘Marapachi Bommai‘ or ‘Pattada Gombe’, usually made of sandalwood, teak or rosewood and decorated with new clothes each year before being displayed on the Kolu.
In South India, bride is presented with ‘Marapachi Bommai’ during the wedding by her parents as part of wedding trousseau to initiate the yearly tradition of ‘Navaratri Golu’ in her new home with her husband. These dolls come as couples dressed in their wedding attire, depicting husband and wife symbolizing prosperity and fertility and the start of the bride’s Gollu collection. Display figurines are passed on from one generation to another as heirloom.
In the evenings, women within the neighborhood invite each other to visit their homes to view the Kolu displays; they also exchange gifts and sweets. A Kuthuvilakku lamp is lit, in the middle of a decorated Rangoli, while devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the Goddess and then to the guests.
On the 9th day Saraswati Puja, special pujas are offered to goddess Saraswati, the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment. Books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge.
The 10th day, Vijayadasami, is the most auspicious day of all. It was the day on which evil was finally destroyed by good. It marks a new and prosperous beginning. New ventures started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity. Kids often start tutoring on this day to have a head start in their education.
Later, on the evening of Vijayadasami, one of the doll from the display is symbolically put to sleep, and the Kalasa is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year’s Navaratri golu. Prayers are offered to thank the Lord for the successful completion of that year’s Kolu and with hope of a successful one the next year. Then the Kolu is dismantled and packed up for the next year.
The nine days of Navaratri are dedicated to nine planets, which are believed to be controlling all human actions on earth. Our ancestors have assigned a particular grain or pulse for each planet.
- The Sun god is pleased with sundal cooked from wheat.
- The Moon god is pleased with rice grain; as we cannot sundal from rice, payasam is presented and distributed as prasadam.
- The Mars god is pleased with sundal cooked from Toor dal.
- The Mercury god is pleased with sundal cooked from Moong dal.
- The Jupiter or Guru god is pleased with sundal cooked from Channa dal.
- The Venus or Sukhra god is pleased with sundal made from White beans or Mochchai dal.
- The Saturn or Shani god is pleased with sundal made from Sesame seed.
- The Raghu god is pleased with sundal made from kollu or Horse gram.
- The Ketu god is pleased with sundal made from Urad dal.
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Happy and prosperous Navaratri to all!