Saturday, 1 October 2016

Navaratri Bommai Golu - Festival Of Dolls

Bommai Golu
Bommai Golu
Navaratri is a time when many homes in the southern states of India feast on colors, light, music, and food. A significant part of the Navratri festival in this region includes the tradition of the Bommai Golu, which is a creation of an assembly of dolls that signify the richness and diversity of life. (Bommai means doll, and Golu means the display or artistic display.) It is believed that this creation is born from the Mother Divine, and Navrati is the time for one to remember, revere and worship the source - the Devi. The number of steps is usually an odd number—3, 5 or 7—depending on one’s capacity, interest and the number of dolls available. The collection of dolls comprise mostly of idols of different gods, depending on one’s faith and upbringing, along with miniature dolls of birds, animals, people, fruits, vegetables and lots of other everyday objects.

Once a king named Suratha made an image of Goddess Kaali out of the clay got from the river bed, undertook fast and worshiped her as advised by his Guru Sumata to vanquish his enemies. Devi blessed him in his endeavor and he started a new life of happiness, joy and peace vanquishing all his erstwhile enemies.

If anyone worships my image made out of mud, a product from among the five great elements (Panchbhootaas) and worship me with devotion I will reward him with prosperity and peace" says Devi in Devi Puraana. King Suratha was successful in eliminating all his enemies following the guidelines provided in Devi Puraana. Since then it has become a practice to arrange the dolls dearer to Devi during Navaraatri and worship them, highlighted by Sarasvati pooja, which forms an important part of the celebration.

Every individual progresses towards spiritual evolution and salvation step by step. The steps in Kolu display, brings forth that philosophy to the mind of everyone. It is customary to have nine steps on which dolls are displayed and worshipped.
  • Step 01 - Trees, plants and creepers etc. which have one sense in their creation.
  • Step 02 - Animates like snails, conch and tortoise etc which have two senses.
  • Step 03 - Animates like ants, cock-roaches which have three senses.
  • Step 04 - Animates like crabs, wasp and birds etc. which have four senses.
  • Step 05 - Animates like cow, goat, lion and tiger etc. which have five senses.
  • Step 06 - Human Beings who have been blessed additionally with sixth sense.
  • Step 07 - Liberated souls like saints and sages.
  • Step 08 - Divines, Nine Planets, Five Elements etc.
  • Step 09 - Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Devi, Ganapati and their Incarnations.
In this way if Golu is displayed and worshiped the Trinities of Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvati will bestow upon us knowledge, wealth and strength.

The Philosophy behind Golu: The last three steps are like rice, cereal, and vessel etc. representing predominance of Tamasic (inert) nature. The middle three steps in which kings, queens and ministers etc. are displayed represent predominance of Rajasic (Ego and action) nature. The top three steps in which the divinities are displayed represent predominance of Saatvic (good) nature.

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