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From: Indira Prativadi (
Date: Mon Oct 07 1996 - 11:36:49 PDT

In <>, Vasudha Narayanan wrote:

>"kolu" as we know it?  Maybe there is information in personal
>recollections-- for instance there are stories of some porcelain dolls
>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
>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
>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
>family would take "kalanda sadam" to Mother Kaveri "who was rushing to
>Lord's house" and celebrate the day.  Reading that note, I kept
>the scene so many times, along with the memories I had of the
>of the day.  Thank you.

I am from Bangalore and indeed I have many wonderful memories from
Kolu Pandige or Bombe Habba or Navarathri Habba or Dasara.  When I was
young my mother used to dress me up in different alankaras like
Radhalankara, Krishnalankara, Moggina Jade alankara or as Shakuthala
etc for each of the nine days and my friends (also dressed up in one
or other alankaras - come to think of it most of us were
Ayyangars!).  We would visit each other's house and the
neighbour's houses to see Kolu or Bombe.  Everyone would have varieties
of kolu displayed and we
would get special snacks as treats in each house.  My mother would
prepare mini murukus, kodubale, laddus etc each day a different
variety of snacks specially for the kids coming to see kolu.  Some
kids would just go out in a group to see Bombe and stand in front of
your house and ask " Ree Bombe Ittiddeera?" meaning have you displayed
kolu! This was the most joyous of festivals that I thoroughly enjoyed!

The festival starts on padyam and ends after Vijayadashmi.  I remember
in our house preparations starting two days prior to padyam, my father
would put up the Padis or Mettals for the kolu.  We usually
had seven to nine padis in our house, people used to have upto 25
padis depending on the space and amount of kolu you had to display.

In Karnataka I think this is closely linked with the Mysore Maharaja's
celeberations of Dasara.  In the palace a whole room
(big) is dedicated for displaying wonderful dolls from all corners of
the world!  There are lots of festivities in the palace for 9 days
culminating with the famous grand dasara procession!

In my house on the top padi in the center we kept the Raja Rani made
of wood and another small pair of raja rani made of vangalam.  My
grandmother gave thse along with other dolls to mom for her
first navarathri after her wedding. (and my mother gave to me). This
is the custom in many houses in Bangalore and Karnataka.
The kolu padis will be decorated and the Raja Rani and the dolls will
get new outfit. I remember making saree for the Rani with the crepe paper and cut out
tiny mango shapes out of shiny paper to make design on the saree and make
little matching blouse.  I also made jewelry with 'rasagundus' for the
dolls.  We had many porcelain Krishnas and dolls clad in sarees and we would
arrange these as Gopis surrounding Krishna in the Brindavan. And a
Chettiyar setting up his shop with all the bags of rice wheat etc and
many such little themes.  The best part was making the Park.  We would
bring sand and pour on the ground in front of the kolu and sow Ragi
in it. In two days time it will grow to two to three inches and in the
park we would have several themes like Raasakreeda with a pond and
railroads, bridges , froest with elephants lions tigers grraffes etc
and little park with a lady walking her dog (this was my favourite
doll) and cat with kittens and groundnut or a peanut vendor , oh I
can go on and on I loved doing all that!  By vijayadashami the Ragi
would grow so thick and tall now I would make a rainforest theme! 
Sorry , I got a little carried away there!

One of  the days, I think sixth day is the Saraswathi pooja.  We keep
saraswathi patam and silver idols on a platform next to kolu padi and
keep veena or any musical instrument and the books and do pooja.  Next
day is Ayudha puja and in the streets of Bangalore all the buses and
all vehicles are washed and painted and shiny adorned with flowers
valakambams(bananaplants) and Maaveles (mango leaves) and kunkumam
manjal vibuthis etc.  People would do pooja to all the machinery,
tools and just about everything from a nail to sewing machine will have a
flower and kunkumam on it!

Then after Mahanavami is Vijayadashami.  The day Vijayadashami as the
name implies (vijaya or victory) is considered as very auspcious day
to start new businessses etc.

In Mysore of course this would be the most colorfull and grandest
time.  The whole city would be decorated.  The late maharaja had
festivities at the palace and fed many poor people at the palace
I think the  Ayudha puja concept came from rajah because being
kshatriya he did puja to his ayudhas or weapons.  And on Vijayadashami
morning to cleberate Victory he would go to Chamudeshwari temple and perform
special puja.  This also signifies the Victory of chamundeshwari of
mahishasura mardini over the demon Mahishasura thus signifying the
victory of good over evil.

In the evening ofcourse the most famous colorfull wonderful dasara
procession the grandeur of which can only be comprehended by
experiencing it!  Those days tons of people converged to Mysore from
all parts of India and I am told the neighbouring countries.  I
remember my father putting me on his shoulders and saying "look there
is his highnesss on the royal elephant"!  First there would be a set
of king's colorfully dressed soldiers with swords marching and then
the horse mounted soldiers and then more soldiers on foot and then the 
Royal elephant Iravatha (or Gajendra I don't remember the
name) wonderfully decorated with the best of jewels will gracefylly
walk carrying a 180 kg pure gold simhasana or ambari studded with gems
on which the maharaja sat in all his finery, with folded hands!  
Most wonderfull almost a fairy taleish sight and unforgetable!
Last month when we visited India I showed my kids the ambari in the
palace and also the Dasara procession paintings.

Vasudha Naranyann's posting brought a flood of
pleasant memories and I couldn't stop typing! 
I hope I haven't bored you all with this.