Monday, October 20, 2008

The Navarathri Festival

This might be a slightly offbeat post, but nevertheless thought I would write about it, as promised in one of my earlier posts..

As early as September every year, I get very excited and active about getting the dolls ready for the Navarathri Kolu at home.

From my childhood we have had this habit of keeping a very grand Kolu at home and my mother always comes up with innovative ideas every year. During our school days, it would be theme parks and zoos, mythological stories and what not !!

This festival, according to me, is not just a mere display of dolls, if one wants to do a real good job of it. Its not as simple as some might think it to be..Lots of planning goes into it, its about collecting nice dolls over the years and maintaining them properly.

If one chooses to exhibit a thematic display, I think the real challenge lies in using the same sets of dolls in many different ways each year and showing one's creativity. After all, one can't keep buying dolls every year for every theme !

Buying the right kind of dolls is another art by itself. One has to look for nice features carved on the dolls, pleasant colors, the right sizes so that,when they are displayed, there is a sense of proportion and symmetry.

The real work is only after the festival, when the dolls have to be carefully packed, cartons to be labelled and safely stacked away.

I attempt a detailed and meticulously planned Kolu at home, with a different theme every year. My kids are equally enthusiastic and help me a lot in their own ways! My 6-yr old son proudly and promptly displays lots of his cars (of course only after I promise him that I would safely hand them over back to him later :-) ), his airport set, train set and his building blocks ! My 9-yr old daughter does a lot of crafts and handwork and she has a separate display of her work. This is of course in addition to the separate section of her (never-ending) list of Barbie dolls being displayed !!

I am sharing with all of you a few photos of this year's Kolu and also a few photos taken during Navarathri in 2005.

This year's theme was Arupadai Veedu of Lord Muruga. In addition to the traditional Kolu, we had kept all dolls pertaining to the Arupadai Veedu Kshetras, namely, Tirupparankunram, Tiruchendur, Palani, Swamimalai, Tiruttani and Pazhamudircholai :

The glass painting of Muruga and the peacock that you see here, done out of colorful ribbons was done by my daughter this year, specially for this theme:

The theme in 2005 was Ganesh Darshan. That year, we had displayed Lord Ganesha in different forms:

These forms of Ganesha on different mediums (like embossed painting, on foil, leaf Ganesha, Ganesha done with pulses and so on) were done by my daughter. She had worked hard on this for almost a year !:

This was the underwater Rangoli that she had done :

In addition to the display of dolls, Navarathri is a special occasion to offer our prayers to the Goddess, invite friends and offer Tambulam to ladies. This has been part of our Indian tradition for many many years now.

Next year I am planning to come up with an altogether different and exciting theme !


Maus said...

nice blog here.
is this activities is like a festival activity in your town?
if so that is a very good tradition.

im visiting here your blog!

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Padma said...

I must say that the golu that yur have arranged is really good..Kudos to your daughter..She is extremely talented and best wishes to her...

Sathej said...

Nice pictures :) Indeed involves a twin mix of creativity and work - much like music I suppose :)

Gayathri Girish said...

Hi Padma,

Thanks and I shall definitely convey your wishes to my daughter:-)

In response to your earlier comment on my Bombay concert, I am coming to Mumbai in November: singing at Dombivili Fine Arts on the 8th of November and at BARC,Chembur on the 9th. Hope to see you there :-)


Anonymous said...

Hi good evening.

I always thought keeping golu is a tradition handed over from parents were not systematically followed this, nor my thatha. Should we follow only if its in parampara, or shall I start myself?

My sister and niece(s) at Bangalore celebrate this every year..and for me, its SIES temple at Nerul.

Looks good. I am sharing this with my sister too.

Kam' Sharma

Gayathri Girish said...


As far as I know, Navarathri K olu, unlike Varalakshmi Vratham is not handed over from generations.It is only a matter of convenience and interest. But I have heard people saying that if one starts the practise, it is good to do it every year.

It is believed that a lady does Varalakshmi Vratham if her mother-in-law has had the practise.

Frankly, according to me, these are just different methods of prayers to the Goddess- so I think anyone with genuine interest can follow them.


Sukanya said...

Enjoyed reading your article on Kolu.Pictures of neatly arranged dolls in koluppadi and the Arupadai Murugan theme show your profound interest in celebrating Ambals Navaratri with a strong penchant for upkeeping tradition and Cultural awareness.
Its so nice that both your kids briskly get involved in the Kolu festival. Intelligent works of Ganesha, peacock, rangoli, etc speak volumes of your young daughter's dedication to art and craft work. Wishing this young budding,hard working art-lover a splendid artistic future !

Anonymous said...

Fantastic pictures and great description. It motivated me to finally post with some pictures and I linked to your page as well. Thanks for all the posts, it is great reading.

Regarding your comment that Varalakshi Vratham is passed down and taken from mother in law, we got a different take when we enquired in the Matam several years ago. My thatha's relative was working in Kanchi matam, and he had enquired if this tradition has to be adhered to and Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal had mentioned one can take up independently even in the MIL is not doing it. So my mom took the puja and I also took it though my MIL does not have the tradition. I just thought I will let you know my experience in our family. Obviously Hindu traditions have different interpretations, but we decided to follow the advice of Mutt.

Gayathri Girish said...

Hi Maus,

Yes, Navarathri is indeed an important festival in the Indian Tradition and the next festival, Diwali, is just round the corner !

This is a festival of lights and the atmosphere everywhere is that of happiness and cheer !

Have a great day and keep posting your valuable comments here :-)


Gayathri Girish said...

Hi Pushkala,

THanks for your compliment:-)
(Saw your comment about Amrithavarshini too :-))

Yes, as I had mentioned earlier, there is no hard-and-fast rule about the Varalakshmi Vratham, though it is passed down through generations.

People who are really interested take it up and its, after all,prayers that we offer, and I guess anyone can do it.

But, at the same time,I also think that some people are a little apprehensive about going against traditional beliefs :-)

Glad to know that you are doing the Puja every year. I will try and post a few pictures of that too soon.


Gayathri Girish said...

Hi Mrs. Sukanya,

Thanks for your wonderful and detailed feedback on the Kolu:-)

My daughter is thrilled to see the accolades that she has been getting here from everyone :-)

Keep visiting the blog and I look forward to your valuable feedback here !