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Navarathri Kolu /Professor Vasudhaa Narayan's question

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_CompuServe.COM)
Date: Mon Oct 07 1996 - 14:17:00 PDT

Dear Members of the Prapatthi group :

Here are some comments on the tradition of 
Kolu during the Navarathri days concluding with 
Vijaya Dasami :

1. The south Indian ladies and particularly in TamiL Naadu
have this ancient tradition of displaying family treasures of 
Bommais ( painted earthern ware ) of the Gods, Goddesses
and a host of other figures representing the life around ( animals,
Chettiyaar , Birds , politicians , spirtiual figures et al) . They take it out
of 
the boxes , where they were stored safely during the rest of the year. 
Men are needed only to unpack and to set up the steps , where the 
Bommais are displayed . Afterwards ,  the Ladies of the house and 
particularly young girls take over.

2. The bommais are made in two towns in south. Every year the 
bommai makers anticipate new trends and introduce contemproary 
figures . One town is PaNNurutti and the other is Bhuvana Giri .
The first town is midway between Madras and Kumbakonam. Bhuvana Giri
with the suffix of Giri symbolizing Sanyasi is few miles from Chidambharam.
Sri Raghavendra Swamigal was born in Bhuvana Giri and became a 
great Madhva Achaarya . 

3. In the highest step , The statues (Bommais ) of Gods and Goddesses
are displayed. At the bottom most step are Bommais related to the 
creations of the Lord such as Birds, animals et al are displayed. 
Homage paid to the entire creations of the Lord and His consort.
In the smaartha tradition, Vinaayaka Bommai is the first one to be
placed on the Kolu. 

4. On the Navarathri days , Unmaaried girls and Sumangalis
visit the houses of the village . The resident of the house offers them 
ManjaL  (turmeric ) , Kumkumam  and BhakshaNam . The visitors
are invited to sing before the Kolu. Three days of Navaraathri are dedicated to 
Durgaa, three days to Lakshmi and the final three days to Saraswathi .
In the Vedic way , one can unite them as Veda Maathaa revered as 
ILaa , Bharathi and Saraswathi . Some men folk abandon their  houses ,
especially when poor singers insist on readily accepting the invitation to sing
and return home after the vambhu Vichaaram at the Vaykkankarai .
Usually , the activities subside by Nine p.m . It is a wonderful social occasion

for the unmarried boys and girls to see each other in  a safe and festival
type of  setting . 

5.Kalasa Aavahanam and the consecration of the Goddess is 
done by devout . Lalitha Sahasra Naamam or Maha Lakshmi
sahasra Naamam is recited every day. Gold and other coins are put inside 
the Pot of consecrated water. It is like Udaga Saanthi. At  the end 
of the Nine days , the consecrated   water  is used for ProkshaNam 
of the younger ones and the  Abhisheakm of the eldest Sumangali.

6. On the Vijaya dasami  day , the aiming of  arrows is intended to
symbolize the Gods showering powerful arrows to destroy our 
accumulated sins and  misdeeds .

Thus the Kolu during Navaraathri for 9 days after the Maalaya Paksha 
Amavaasyai  has many social and spiritual significances .

This year , Navarathri commences on Sunday, October 13 .
Saraswathi Aavaahanam is on October 18 , which also
happens to be the birth day of MaNavaaLa MaamunigaL.
Next day is Durghaashtami . Saraswathi Pujaa is 
on Oct 20 (SravaNam day ).

Vijaya Dasami is on October 21, which is also the birthday 
of Poygai Azhwaar ; the birth days of Bhootham and Pey Azhwaars 
follow right after (October 22 and 23 ). Ekadasi falls on October 23
as well .It is wonderful reflect on the glorious  three hundred verses
of these three Azhwaars just after Navaraathri celebration on the Eakadasi day
..

V.Sadagopan