Firstly, Chennai Navratri literally means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit. Three forms of the goddess -Lakshmi , Saraswathi and Durga are worshipped during Navratri. In addition to the daily poojas for the goddess, the tradition also calls for a dolls’ display, or Navratri Kolu or Golu as it is called. Further, the mud dolls are displayed in homes, offices and Temples during this period. In addition, It is considered auspicious and a social occasion for greeting friends & family. Above all, the kolu is quite a remarkable tradition in the South of the country.
For example, the dolls, typically made of mud, are arranged on wooden steps. However, today they are made with paper Mache. For example, there are between 7 to 11 steps on which the dolls are showcased. The dolls have been typically handed down. Hence, it is a family tradition that is followed. They are also distinct in their subject-matter: (a) a scene from Mount Kailash with Lord Shiva, his wife Parvati and their sons Lord Ganesh& Lord Kartikeya (b) Similarly , Lord Rama with his wife Sita , his brother Lakshmana, and his devotee ,the monkey God Hanuman.
Further, there are a multitude of themes and dolls that is available.
The Dolls can probably be purchased from Giri, VTI, Poompuhar and Kalpa Druma.
Above all, there has been a splurge of thematic kolu in the past 10 to 12 years leading to an explosion of revived interest in this tradition. A park with children, a temple on a hill, a water body, houses and markets have all been depicted. The grandmothers wove stories around these themes. She never ever got tired of them and the children too never ever got bored with them!!
In addition, the display is planned a few months ahead of the kolu and families are extremely resourceful in creating the necessary backdrops (converting throw-away cardboard rolls into pillars; using pattamadai mats to create huts etc.)
The Kolu tradition brings alive the magic of Indian mythology and folklore. It is a great platform for social connectivity and keeps all family members in the house engaged and joyful.
Women are dressed in their best clothes during the Kolu festival.
Kolu Dolls are available at :-
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