Navratri which literally means ‘nine nights’ is a Hindu festival celebrated in the months of September or October. The festival is observed differently across the Indian subcontinent as per the various cultures that the country has. The underlying message is same throughout all the cultures – ‘Victory of good over the evil.’ On a spiritual level, it also means killing the demons within ourselves and leading a peaceful life.
In the Eastern and North eastern states, Durga Puja is celebrated during Navratri in the honor of goddess Durga, who battled the Buffalo demon and restored Dharma. In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymous with “Rama Lila” and Dussehra that celebrates the battle and victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. In southern states, the victory of different goddesses, of Rama or Saraswati is celebrated.
Being a Tamilian by birth, I have always enjoyed Navratri. In our culture, the festival is adorned with ‘Kolu’ or ‘Bommai Kolu’. It is the display of dolls and figurines in a step like formation called ‘Padi’. Bommai literally means dolls. These dolls are made of clay by rural artisans and are painted with the brightest colours. Every ‘Padi’ or step narrates a story. The themes generally consist of Gods and goddesses. Wedding themes, wherein a full wedding dolls is also very common.
Families visit each other’s houses during these nine days and savour the delicious food items prepared for the festival. I love the excitement that this festival brings about and now, I’m passing on the same to Riaan. I took him to various relatives’ houses this year and he was thrilled to see such a beautiful sight. I am sure that a part of him wanted to create a havoc but, he held back 😉.
In my family, the Kolu has been carried forward through generations and it’s a lovely heritage that has been passed. On the final day, that is on Dussera, one of the dolls is symbolically put to sleep and the ‘Kalasa’ is moved toward the north to mark the end of the festival. Prayers are offered and the Kolu is dismantled and stored safely for the next year. A lot of people keep adding new dolls to their collection every year.
All in all, a lovely festival which brings a lot of positive vibes.
Do you have any pictures of your homes Kolu? Do share them with us.