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Bommai Kolu
Navratri Golu.jpg
Display of Kolu in Tamil Nadu
Also called Navaratri Kolu
Observed by Kannadigas, Telugus Of Kostha and Rayalaseema and Tamilians
Type Hindu
Celebrations Dasara
Begins Mahalaya
Ends Vijayadasmi
Related to Navratri

Bommai Kolu is a doll and figurine display festival celebrated during the festival of Navratri in Southern India, it is customary in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, as well as in some Tamil communities within Sri Lanka.[1]


Bommai Kolu in (Tamil means Divine Presence. Bommala Koluvu in (Telugu means Court of Toys and Bombe Habba in means Doll Festival. is part of Dasara festival where young girls and women display dolls, figurine, court life, everyday scenes along with the divine presence of the Goddesses Saraswati, Parvati and Laxmi in the Tamil, Kannada and Andhra Telugu households during Navaratri or The Nine nights.


Bommala Koluvu display 1950-54

On the first day of Navaratri, Following Ganapathi pooja, a welcoming ritual is performed for Goddesses Saraswati, Parvati and Lakshmi by Hindu ritual called Kalasa Avahanam which is performed by an elderly male or female of the family. This is then followed by building a rack of odd-numbered shelves of Kolu (or Padi) (usually 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11), set up using wooden planks. After the Kolu has been covered with fabric it is then adorned with various dolls, figurines and toys according to their size, with the deities at the top. The Kolu is predominantly displayed with depictions from Puranas, court life, royal procession, ratha yatra, weddings, everyday scenes, toys, miniature kitchen utensils, anything a little girl would have played with. Most of the wooden toys displayed come from traditional toy makers in Etikoppaka, Kondapalli, Kinnal and Channapatna. It is a traditional practice to have wooden figurines of the bride and groom together, called 'Marapacchi Bommai' or 'Pattada Gombe', usually made of teak or sandalwood and decorated with new clothes each year before being displayed on the Kolu. In southern India bride is presented 'Marapacchi Bommai' during the wedding by her parents as part of wedding trousseau to initiate the yearly tradition of 'Navaratri Gollu' in her new home with her husband. These dolls come as couples dressed in their wedding attire, depicting husband and wife symbolizing prosperity and fertility and the start of the bride's Gollu collection. Display figurines are passed on from one generation to another as heirloom.

In the evenings, women within the neighborhood invite each other to visit their homes to view the Kolu displays; they also exchange gifts and sweets. A Kuthuvilakku lamp is lit, in the middle of a decorated Rangoli, while devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the Goddess and then to the guests.

On the 9th day Saraswati Puja, special pujas are offered to Goddess Saraswati, the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment. Books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge.

The 10th day, Vijayadasami, is the most auspicious day of all. It was the day on which evil was finally destroyed by good. It marks a new and prosperous beginning. New ventures started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity. Kids often start tutoring on this day to have a head start in their education.

Later, on the evening of Vijayadasami, one of the doll from the display is symbolically put to sleep, and the Kalasa is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year's Navaratri golu. Prayers are offered to thank the Lord for the successful completion of that year's Kolu and with hope of a successful one the next year. Then the Kolu is dismantled and packed up for the next year.


Kolu also has a significant connection with the agricultural economy of ancient India. It is said that in order to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds, the Kolu celebration was aimed at raising demand for clay from such activities. There are many customs and beliefs in different parts of India that imbue sacred status to clay.




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