Navarathri Pooja | Kolu Celebrations

This is final post for this month in the #56th edition of Blogging Marathon , this week with the theme - Blogger's choice where I have chosen festivals and functions as the theme.

Navarathri is also known by the names  Kolu / Golu .Navarathri which literally means ‘nine nights’ is one of the major festivals in India.Celebrated for 9 days ,it is the worship of the feminine form of the Supreme.People from different parts of India celebrate in their own style but the basis is the same.

The 9 days are divided to sets of three days where 3 different Goddesses are worshiped in Her different forms of manifestations -Durga[destroyer of our vices, negativity and impurities] ,Lakshmi [provider of inexhaustible spiritual and worldly wealth] and Saraswathi[Goddess of wisdom].

During Navarathri,there us an exhibition of dolls in each household.Marapachi dolls, wooden figurines of a boy and a girl, are one of the dolls that find their position without fail in the ‘Kolu’.The others are statues of various Gods and Goddesses in different materials and the their sizes are a matter of individual choice,figures from day to day life,animals,birds,etc.

Here is somthing that I wrote when I started this blog and enjoyed reading it now. Am sharing it with you...

 In my childhood,Kolu is the most interesting aspect of Navarathri.The day before the festival starts,steps are arranged usually in the puja room or in the main hall and dolls made of various materials are arranged on it.I would eagerly wait for this festival as it would bring out all the beautiful dolls that mom had collected over the years as well the ones handed over to her by her mom and her grandmom.Would you believe me if I told you that there are some dolls at home that are nearly a 100 years old!!These dolls were given to my grandmother by her mother in law!We treasure these dolls and they mean a lot to us.These dolls are made of porcelain and are still in the best of their beauty without a bit of chip or fading of color.What exquisite craftsmanship!!

Each year we buy at least a few dolls to add to our collection and shopping for it is a thrill.We used to go some shops which sprout up during this season or but them from the street hawkers.There would be hawkers calling out their wares,carrying them on huge baskets over their heat or in a push car,walking through the streets.Anytime we hear them call out,I would be the first one to rush out and call them to check out the dolls.

The other thing that I looked forward to is the park or zoo that I would be allowed to create beside the main 'Kolu'.Dad would help me lay out a large plastic sheet and we would spread sand over it and let our imagination run.Sometime I would scatter a few mustard seeds on the sand and they would sprout as 'trees' for my miniature zoo or forest.I would place animals and birds and people in my park and admire my 'creation'.

Another interesting thing during navarathri is a sort of 'competition' amongst friends to see whose home has more number of steps for the Kolu as there are predefined numbers for setting it up.The more the steps and more the dolls it houses,the greater our pride!

Mom would draw beautiful and colorful rangoli in front of the steps and light lamps around it.Rangoli is a form of art of drawing patterns using finely ground white powder and color powders.Some days it would be a colorful rangoli,other days would feature her rangoli with colored cereal grains and pulses and sometimes even rangoli on water and on glass.This is one of the arts that mom learnt from my grandmom- her mother in law!

Every evening mom would dress me up in beautiful traditional cloths and send me off with a box of kum-kum to invite my neighbors.I would feel so 'grown up' and important during these times..How I wish I could be a kid again...[I am sure all of you will agree with me on this statement]

Then comes the tasty part of Navarathri-the offerings prepared for the Goddess or the 'Neivedhyam '.Each day would see its share of sundal and I would look forward to savoring it along with the other snacks and sweets that she prepared.

 Coming to the present and moving on to the post of the day....

These days, Lil Angel loves to have Kolu at home and this is was our arrangement last year....


We take down the dozen or so large boxes from the attic a week before the festival. The dolls are wrapped in cloth / cotton to keep them safe.

The day before Navarathri starts, we start arranging the dolls in the steps / racks.The steps are usually in odd numbers.

The first to be seated is always this Ganesha who has been in our home for more than 50 years.



 Then rangoli is drawn on one of the steps, and a small mantapa / altar is placed to keep the kalasa / sacred pot.



Then the Marapachi Bombbay  is placed. They are a couple representing the husband and wife.These dolls are mandatory and they are made of teak wood / rosewood. A set of these dolls are given to her daughter during the wedding along with other dolls for navarathri to take along with her to her new home.


Then all the other dolls are placed on the shelves.


These kitchen sets in various materials was arranged by Lil Angel last year .It was almost mid night when we came to this section of the arrangement and the lil one was so enthusiastic in getting this done.

The brass set in the first pic is from my grandmom to mom and is really very old. The vessels are so strong and heavy and I bet we can never find such stuffs today.

The second pic has a coffee set which we got in Mysore when I was about 10 years old and the Maakkal[Soft stone stuffs seen below the cups and saucers] is also from grandmom. The third pic has kitchen utensils made of wood and is from the temple city of Madurai where my grandparents lived when I was a kid.


The beaded lady, bananas, tulasi mantap is the handiwork of mom which she made before I was born! In front of that is the stainless steel kitchen set. In the next pic are the vessels made out of clay  and wood that belongs to my grandmom.


Here are some more dolls.. I love that musical set. My mom tells me that the boy with umbrella doll was purchased when she was a kid...The king and the lady with the pink and white dress are made of ceramic and were given to my grnadmom by her mom.


An amalgamation on culture!! Karagattam set , a set depecting various occupations, dolls from China sharing a shelf space.


Here to are some dolls that are almost a century old! The two small Eskimos and the cow and calf in the first pic are those that my grandmom inherited from her mother


And here comes the other important part of the Kolu- The pot bellied shop keeper and his wife! This too was done by Lil Angel.



All these preps are done the night before the festival starts. The next day after bath, the pooja starts. The symbol seen below is drawn with a paste of vermilion and water behind the mantap.


The items needed for the pooja are kept ready


The kalasa is ready. A small vessel is filled upto half with rice and sachets of kumkum and turmeric are placed in it.A coconut is smeared with turmeric paste  and a tilak is placed with kumkum. It is places on the vessel surrounded by mango leaves.



 This kalasa is placed inside the mantapa.



Pooja is done with kumkum, turmeric, akshathay[sacred yellow colored rice] ,gajavasthara[cotton garland],flowers and flower garland.


Pooja is also performed for the Marapachi Dolls.Neivedhyam is offered. Sodal arathi and Mangala arathi[camphor/kalpoora arathi] is shown to the entire kolu and placed in front of the Kolu arrangement.


This is our kolu after the pooja....

 In the evening mom and me drew this simple rangoli in front of the Kolu...


 Neighbors and friends are invited to have a glimpse of the ‘kolu’ and before they leave they are offered a pouch with a few betel leaves,betel nuts,a couple of fruits[mostly bananas] and a small gift, like pens for children,a kum-kum box for women etc but these gifts are not mandatory. Along with this comes a packet of tasty sundal which is of course, mandatory.Visitors, especially the children are asked to sing for the small audience present.

Every day ,for the next 9 days, in the morning and evening pooja is performed with kumkum and turmeric for the kalasa. Sodal and mangalarathi is also performed.Simple neivedhyam like fruits / sundal is offered.

On Vijayadasami night, the pooja comes to an end.The Marapachi dolls are made to lie down and the kalasa is moved a little bit from its place.This signifies the end of the festival.


The next morning the dolls , kalasa are removed. The dolls are packed once again and placed in the boxes and put in the attic. The flowers. gajavasthara,mango leaves are put into a well / pond / tulasi planter. The coconut is broken and used in cooking. The rice is mixed into the regular rice container. The sachets of kumkum and turmeric are opened and the each one takes a little and applies on the forehead.

This is how we celebrate navarathri. The procedures and rituals will vary from family to family...

Take a look at all that was served so far on The Buffet On Table...



Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 56


An InLinkz Link-up


Bon Appetit...




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