Navarathri Kolu

This is the time of Navrathri -the festival of nine nights,dedicated to the Mother Goddess.Navrathri is also known as Dussera.In South India,Navrathri is celebrated by having ‘kolu’s.

What is Navrathri?

Many legends are associated with Navrathri.The festival is celebrated for a period of nine days and the tenth day is celebrated as VijayDashmi,the day of victory.It is believed that Goddess Durga fought with the demon Mahishasura for nine days and slayed him on VijayDashmi.Another version has it that the battle of Ramayana,between Ram and Ravan was fought during Navrathri and Ravan was killed on the tenth day.In short,Navrathri signifies the victory of good over evil.The festival is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India.

What is Kolu?

In southern part of India,Navrathri is celebrated by keeping ‘kolu’s in homes.A kolu is a collection of dolls,mostly made out of clay and painted in bright colours.Mostly the dolls are of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.However,creeping in of modernity has resulted in many social themes also being displayed in Navrathri kolus.

The dolls are placed on steps made especially for the display.Furniture and boxes in the house are arranged in order to construct the temporary steps.These days ready-made steel steps are available for this purpose.Most of the household items retailers have it.

Kolu Dolls

The Kolu doll-making is an art.The dolls are mostly made of clay.However,these days we also have dolls made of paper-mache,plaster of paris and cement.For clay dolls,care is taken to choose the proper type of clay so that it does not get damaged while roasting in the kiln.Once the dolls are ready,painting them is the next task.Usually bright colours are chosen for painting the dolls.
With traditional doll-makers moving over to more lucrative jobs,the kolu doll-making is slowly fading away.Higher cost of raw materials and labour has pushed up the prices of these dolls.
Another interesting fact about these dolls is that many families preserve the kolu dolls,handing them down from generation to generation.It is not difficult to find century-old kolu dolls in many South Indian families.It is a matter of pride for the families treasuring them.

Packing the Dolls

Packing in itself is
serious work.Care has to be taken to ensure that the dolls are packed
properly without any breakage.They must be stored safely till the next
year.While unpacking also,care should be taken to do it without damaging
the dolls.

Inviting Friends

What is Navrathri without friends and relatives.Once the dolls are set-up on the steps,the ladies of the house ready themselves to welcome guests to see the kolu.Invitations are sent out to friends and relatives to come and see the kolu.The invitees are mostly ladies and children.Men take a back-stage in
this function.Their only role is to help setup the doll-display and to
pack the dolls back once the festival is over.
Kolu-hopping is a great way of socializing over piping hot sundal(snack made of lentils) and thamboolam(gifts of flower,betel leaves,coconut). A cardinal rule followed during Navrathri is that the guests have to
sing before the kolu.Some do it voluntarily and others do it after
gentle prodding.

Navrathri ensures that we meet our near and dear ones at least once a year,at least on the pretext of visiting the kolu.So here is Wishing you all Happy Bonding over Navrathri Kolu

Written for Day 3 of  Ultimate Blogging Challenge 

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