BommaiKolu, All you need to know about the Navratri tradition. The Navaratri Festival has begun amidst the widespread of Covid-19 pandemic in India. While the usual colors of celebrations have faded off to Covid, the practices and beliefs associated with it create an aura of positivity for the devotees.
The hope for betterment, for a bright future, and for the well-being of the whole world is being emphasized more than ever.
For the Brahmin community, the festival presents a platform for religious gathering, which the pandemic has usurped with its nature of community spread. Yet, humanity negates to give up and has always found a way of turning the negative into positive.
One of the integral parts of the community’s Navaratri celebration is the practice of presenting BommaiKolu (or Golu).
It is arranged at temples, houses as well as community halls. It offers a chance to look into the pantheon of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, which take the forms of Kolu Dolls, kept in a rack of various steps. The steps have to be odd in number with nine being the ideal. People who could not afford the same arrange for three, five, or seven steps.
The Kolu Dolls are traditionally made of clay. However, the high chances of breaking have paved the way for dolls made of Plaster of Paris. The dolls are believed to assume divinity once presented as Kolu. Any deity of the pantheon could be worshipped as part of this and devotees try to include as many varieties as possible.
The presentation of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganapathy, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, and so on as part of a collective entity of Kolu instills a sense of unity among the believers. Among them, there is a set of dolls, (dressed as couples) considered to be most important. The set is called the Marappachi (made of Red Sandalwood).
Moreover, the festival is also seen as one which gives immense importance to women. As per belief, Navaratri (meaning nine nights) are split into three sets of three days each, out of which, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga.
The next three days are dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lakshmi and the final three days to Goddess Saraswathi.
Practice of Kolu
Also, the practice of Kolu display involves giving Thambulam (a plate of betel leaves, turmeric, and saffron) to women each evening, wherein there will be a celebration involving music and dance.
Relatives, acquaintances, and friends are invited to see the Kolu and along with Thambulam, a variety of delicacies are cooked and served each day to visitors of Kolu.
It is believed that the presentation of Koluwould brings peace, prosperity, and well-being to the people of the house as well as to the visitors.
However, this year proves to be difficult for the devotees as communal gatherings and guest visits are being discouraged to a great extent. Technology covers up the loss to a certain level through posts, messages, pictures, and videos of Klaus.
Yet, nothing fully satisfies the harmony that prevails on gatherings. The community halls stage various competitions on music and dance as well as offer special rituals as part of the festival.
Such celebrations have ceased its importance with the pandemic. Only the close relations are being invited to the houses to see the Kolu, as it can’t be skipped once the family has taken the decision to arrange BommaiKolu each year unless there has been a death in the family.
The eighth day of the festival, termed as Ashtami, is when books are kept for Pooja, which instills the faith that books are to be seen and treated as sacred as they present to us, the treasure of knowledge. Poojas are offered to the books the next day too.
On the tenth day, which is called Vijayadashami (as it is considered to be the day when Goddess Durga emerged victorious over Mahishasura by killing him), the books are taken out of the offering and the ceremony of Vidyarambham is held.
It is considered to be an auspicious time to make babies learn alphabets (the initial stage to learning) by carving them out on a plate full of rice.
On the afternoon of the tenth day, the Kolu dolls are placed in a lying position as part of the belief that the Gods and Goddess are to take rest after ten days of standing. As part of Kolu.
On the eleventh day, the rack is dismantled and the fragile dolls are carefully wrapped in newspapers or clothes to avoid damage. They are usually packed inside huge cardboard boxes and kept in lofts along with the rack, taken out only for the next Navaratri.