Navratri special: Golu festival in South India
In Tamil Nadu, Golu or the festival of dolls is celebrated during Navratri.
It’s that time of the year when the revered Shakti (feminine power) is recalled and worshipped. Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is a way of life and not a religion, per say. Each person belonging to this faith as his/her own way of worshipping and hence the same Navratri too like several other Hindu festivals is celebrated differently across the nation.
Each geographical zone has its unique tradition, and the festival gracefully fits into any of the regional customs thereby giving it an assorted appeal.
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Down south, Navaratri or the nine nights are celebrated with the display of dolls and idols on a stair-like platform. It is popular as Golu.
This is symbolic of the fact that everything on earth has one creator and that all are one. People celebrating Golu often adopt a theme. They beautify the platform in their own way thereby depicting what they want to convey.
The Golu is symbolic of the feminine power which is represented with a Kalash on the topmost stair. Idols of other Gods and Goddesses too are placed on the top.
A Kalash (metal pot either made of silver, brass or copper) is filled with raw rice. Mango leaves are placed on the neck of the pot and a coconut is placed on the top of the leaves in a way that the leaves spill along the outer walls of the pot.
People mandatorily use the Marapachi Bommai set (made of a special wood with medicinal value). Besides these dolls, a number of other idol sets are displayed, either depicting a Mahabharata or a Ramayana scene. Nowadays, people use modern themes too.
Married women, unmarried girls and children are invited in the evening and are presented with the beetle leaf, beetle nut, jewellery and other gift items.
The first three days are meant to worship Goddess Durga, followed by Goddess Lakshmi for the next three days and the remaining for Goddess Saraswati.
Sundal (made of different grains and pulses) are prepared as 'prasad' besides sweet dishes and are offered to the God. The same is distributed among the guests who visit the homes to see the Golu.
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