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From: Vasudha Narayanan (vasu_at_religion.ufl.edu)
Date: Fri Oct 04 1996 - 10:56:39 PDT

Esteemed members of this group:
 I have been wondering about the origins of the "Kolu" during navaratri.
This seems unique to people from Tamilnadu, parts of Andhra and Karnataka,
though in Andhra there is also a tradition of displaying dolls during the
time of makara sankaranti for three days.  Some elders in India told me that
originally only the murtis of the Lord, Lakshmi and others were kept and
somehow the secular dolls came in later.  Does anyone know the origin of the
"kolu" as we know it?  Maybe there is information in personal
recollections-- for instance there are stories of some porcelain dolls being
given during my great grandmother's first navaratri after marriage-- so that
pushes it back some years!  More and more "social" themes seem to be
represented in India-- in the fifties I vaguely recall seeing scened from
Indian independance movement.  Do you know of other secular themes that were
so represented? Since this has been an important tradition in our family, I
was curious about the history, and have been unable to get textual answers.
I have a lot of information on the story of Mahishasuramardini, the puranas
where they come, Yudhistira's veneration of Durga in the Mahabharata (Virata
Parvan, I believe), but I'm simply searching for information just on our
Tamil kolu.  Any information is welcome! Thanking you, Vasudha Narayanan  
PS The reason I requested even personal recollections is because it gives so
much pleasure just to hear about it.  For instance, this summer, when the
bhakti group was on "hold," I had asked Sri Sadagopan about patinettam
perukku and he gave me such a lovely answer about how the ladies in his
family would take "kalanda sadam" to Mother Kaveri "who was rushing to her
Lord's house" and celebrate the day.  Reading that note, I kept imagining
the scene so many times, along with the memories I had of the celebrations
of the day.  Thank you.