Navarathri - Kolu at my Home - Part I

Navarathri started from last Saturday and its more special for me than other important festivals like Diwali or Pongal (Makara Sankranthi) as I get to do a lot during Navarathri esp. arranging Kolu (Golu). Kolu is the arrangement of dolls and several figurines in steps that may be 3,5,7,9 or 11 in number.

Navarathri – 9 nights. It is the celebration of the Trinity Goddesses – Parvathy, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. It ends with Dusshera aka Saraswathi Puja and Vijayadasami. In the northern states of India esp. Gujarat it’s more of a Dance and Music festival with Dandiya Raas, Garbha Dance etc. But in southern states it’s a décor and music festival with drama too. It’s been an incredible experience always. Arranging the Kolu, inviting people to visit the Kolu, dressing up kids as Lord Krishns, Kopikas etc, sharing ‘sundal’- a preparation of pulses like green peas – a specialty of Navarathri, singing the classical Carnatic songs, its all such a great festival. It requires lots of patience and interest as well to unpack the dolls, fix the steps, arrange the dolls, entertain the guests for the whole 9 days, repack the dolls and store them properly to prevent breakage, coz most are mud dolls.

When my mom started keeping Kolu when I was a kid we started with 3 steps, that too managed with trunk boxes and tables etc. Then we proceeded to 5 steps and then as we collected several dolls we bought the Kolu stand and here is our Kolu with 7 steps.

So lemme now show you it all step by step. Starting from the first step. The first step generally has figurines of Gods and Goddesses. At the centre is Lord Shiva holding Lord Ganesha aka Pillaiyaar and beside him is his consort Goddess Parwathi holding Lord Murugan aka Karthikeyan. A typical family picture! See the beaded flowers at their feet? Those were done by my mom when she was a school child in her 9th grade. Beside them is Lord Buddha. And next to Buddha is a mother feeding her child. According to me a Mother is the best creation of God and she is a creator herself. So I prefer keeping her equal or higher than Gods. To the other side are Gandhiji with his 3 monkeys and Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. I consider Gandhiji as my leader and guide and so I keep him too there atop. The 3 monkeys denote see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil as Gandhiji instructs.

In the second step are Dakshinamurthy and Annamalaiyar and Unnamulaiyammai. Dakshinamurthy is Lord Shiva who is an ascetic. He sits south faced under a tree. South is Dakshin so Dakshinamurthy. He is flanked by 4 rishis – saints.

Beside Dakshinamurthy are Annamalaiyar and Unnamulaiyammai, yet other names of Lord Shiva and his consort Parwathi with the Saiva Nalvar. The little figurine beneath is Lakshmi Hayagreevar – the horse faced incarnation of Lord Vishnu who is a specialty God for knowledge and wisdom.

On the third step are 3 different scenes. The first one is a Krishna Leela. Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In this scene, the lady is Yashodha – Lord Krishna’s foster mother with a ‘Maththu’ – an instrument to make ghee, in hand looking at the prank he had played. He was actually tied up to an ‘Ural’ – a traditional manual mixie/grinder as a punishment for his pranks. Inspite of it, he manages to crawl around with it and goes through 2 trees. The ‘Ural’ gets stuck up between the trees and the trees fall. These trees were 2 people who were cursed to become trees and would be reversed only upon the grace of Lord Krishna. In the scene are those 2 people beside the fallen tree.

The second scene is Lord Rama, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmanan and the oarsman Gugan. It is the scene where the 3 are on their way into a forest for exile. In the front as you may see there are some little figurines. At the centre is the Pancha Mukha Ganapathy – the 5 faced Lord Ganasha. The beadwork of the Shivalinga with the snake and a Kuthuvilakku – traditional lamp between second and third scenes were again among my mom’s 9th grade work!

The third scene is Kamakshi aka Parwathi hugging Siva Lingam. She had actually made this Lingam with sand beside a river in Kanchipuram and started praying him to accept her as his wife. When the river started bulging with overflowing water, the lingam was at the verge of dissolving when she just hugged it that it doesn’t dissolve. With her love and warm hug, Lord Shiva accepted her and married her.

On the fourth step are 4 scenes. Wow! Just while writing this I noticed, I’ve arranged 2 scenes in 2nd step, 3 in 3rd, and 4 in 4th… Cool…!!!

Ok. The first scene is Lord Krishna with his wife Rukmini and childhood friend Kuchelan. Kuchelan aka Sudama is a father of 27 kids who is highly affected by poverty. Well, what would you expect out of a guy who has 27 kids.!!! Since Krishna is a king, he decides to ask help. So as a gift he takes beaten rice. As Krishna takes one handful of rice, the whole of his gold goes to Sudama’s place. On the second handful, Kuchelan’s house becomes a palace.

The second scene is Avvaiyum Navarkaniyum. Avvai is an old lady poet who was proud of her knowledge. So Lord Muruga in the form of a little cowboy sits atop a Naval Maram – Jamun tree. When Avvai asks this cowboy to pluck and put down some Jamun Fruits, he asks ‘Sutta Pazham Venduma.? Sudadha Pazham Venduma.?’ (Do you want cooked, hot Jamuns or normal Jamuns). She laughs and says, ‘How do u cook Jamun’. He says, ‘Its possible’. She says, ‘Ok. Gimme Sutta Pazham. He plucks and throws the fruits down. She picks ‘em up and blows the sand stuck onto it. On seeing this, he asks, ‘Seems the Jamun really hot, you are blowing it.?’. Immediately she realized, this is God himself!!!

The Thulasi Maadam in the front is again Mom's talent! The little figurine beside is Veenadhara Anjaneyar – Hanuman with Veena, the musical instrument.

The third scene is Thirukazhukundram. It’s a place where eagles take food from the hands of the temple priest like a pet animal. Eagles are Lord Vishnu’s vahanam – mount. The little figurine is Lalithambal – an incarnation of Goddess Parwathi.

The fourth is Bharatha Pillayar. It is believed that Lord Ganesha aka Pillaiyar, wrote the Mahabaratha, one of the longest epics in India along with Ramayana, as said by Maharishi Vyasa. So in the scene is depicted the same.

K for now. This is going really long. I’ll get back with the last 3 rows and the side display soon.


An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.


  1. புத்தர்
    செட்டியார் ஜோடி
    ராமர் சீதை லஷ்மணன் படகு பயண பொம்மைகளை பார்க்கையில் எங்க வீட்டு கொலு ஞாபகம் வந்தது! இதெல்லாம் எங்க வீட்லயும் இருக்கே!

    நவராத்திரி கொலு அந்த வாரம் புல்லா செம சந்தோஷமாக இருந்த தருணங்கள் :)

  2. I have never visited a GOLU before bot have got some idea as what it is :)
    nice post yaar :)

    gr8 blog pa :)
    u have a new follower :)

    keep blogging

  3. So colorful all
    I love it,
    Amazing post !!!

  4. @Ayilyan,
    Thanks a lot. :) Glad to know I could kindle back your sweet memories... :)

    Wow... Great to know I introduced Kolu to you. Thanks a lot for dropping by and commenting. Thanks a ton for following. Do drop in often. Would love your visits n comments.. :)

    Thanks sweety.. :)

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting. :)
    Do drop in often. Would love your visits, comments & followups.. :)

  5. ஒரு கொலு பொம்மையே
    கொலுவை பத்தி எழுதுதே..
    ஆச்சர்யக் குறி.. :))

  6. Very interesting to learn these traditions as exhibited through the doll scenes.

  7. Really nice collections and nice narrative. Mysore also had a tradition of keeping dolls and such figurines during Dasara when I was growing up as a kid. I am not sure if the tradition is still as prevalent as it was back then. Lovely to see that this is alive and well in your place. All the best for this very auspicious period.

  8. Hello Mitr-friend, thank you for visiting.

    It looks like you have a lot of festivals. I think it is nice to be in a festive mood often. It keeps us busy :)

  9. great golu! loved the rama tableau in the boat! have never seen that one!

  10. So interesting these traditional dolls!

  11. What an elaborate description of an equally elaborate arrangement based on mythological stories.
    That goes on to prove how diverse and massive our heritage and culture is. You always end up knowing something that we never heard or read before.
    Great post!
    And thanks for visiting my blog.

  12. Very interesting post. Your culture has great festivals and intriguing stories.

  13. @Sanjai,
    Enna Nakkala..!!! Anyways, Happy Navarathri.. :)

    Thanks a lot dear.. :)

    Of course, the whole of South India has the tradition. It is still prevalent in many of the places. Thanks a lot dear. :) Happy Navarathri.. :)

    @Ocean Girl,
    That's true dear. We have so many Gods n Goddesses and special celebrations for each and everyone of them. It's a celebration almost atleast once every month.

    Thanks dear. :) Glad that I introduced a new scene to you. :)

    Thanks dear. :)

    Very true. Our own culture astonishes me many a times.. :) Thanks for dropping by. Do drop in often. Would love your visits, comments and followups. :) And, Happy Navarathri. :)

    Thanks sweety.. :)

  14. These little statues are beautiful. So intricate and so much colour. To me this offers an insight into quiet unknown traditions.
    Thank you for your always lovely comments at my place.;)

  15. Nice photos.The details for the dolls are interesting.

  16. Hi Mi-Friend! Another week has passed without a chance to drop by. It seems time runs faster when you get to a certain age... ;)
    Interesting post! The things that I learn when I get here!!

    Blogtrotter is trying to have fun in the Turkish Riviera. Enjoy and have a marvellous weekend!

  17. @ Protege,
    Thank you so much dear.. :) And ur welcome dear.. :)

    Thank you.. :)

    Don't say so GMG, you are an ever young person. :) Thanks a lot for your kind comments. :)

  18. This is a terrific post. I love the step-by-step description of your kolu. It brought back so many fond memories of kolus past, when we kept kolu at home and visited homes far and near.

  19. thozhhi kalakitinga.. the one tat i luved was the narration about each step.. realy wonderful

  20. @Work Hard,
    Thanks dear.. :)

    Thanks a lot sweety. Glad that I could kindle those sweet memories.

    Thanks thala... :)

  21. lovely pics!!! and wonderful dolls! loved this closer look at them! and that bead tulsi madam reminded me of one we had.. made by my grandmother... its with my uncle now!

  22. @Anu,
    Thanks dear.
    U too have a Tulasi Madam, made by your granny??? Wow, that's so heartening. Its indeed sad that the schooling these days have become so stereotyped and such crafts are just not given importance. My mom made these as a part of her school curricullum...


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