Festival of Dolls – Navratri
From time immemorial the festival Navratri is being celebrated annually by all Hindus. Navratri means nine nights festival. This festival commences from the next day to the great new moon day called MAGALAYA AMAVASYA day. On the first day of the commencement of this nine night’s festival every house will be cleaned, decorated and all the dolls of various kinds which are kept reserved in the house will be placed in the nine steps put up in one by one in rows and arranged beautifully to attract the visitors who are specially invited to witness this doll festival. The neighbors who are invited come and stay for a while and witness the beautiful dolls and their arrangements. It is called KOLU. Usually the visitors sing songs on various gods especially the goddesses. On the first three days usually they pray to Goddess Parvati wife of Lord Siva, the second and third days are devoted to Goddess Lakshmi - wife of Lord Vishnu and on the last three days Goddess Saraswati, wife of Lord Brahma is worshipped. The intention behind the praying to the three goddesses is meant to give respect for strength, wealth and wisdom. The three goddesses are intended for the three items respectively. On the final day which is called “The AYUDHA POOJA” day, it is a usual practice to worship all the instruments and machinaries, which are used by the working class. This is to give respect to them as they were helped to use for earning. All the old books used by the ancestors and their descendants which are currently under use are also arranged neatly, kept and worshiped on the day of “Saraswati Pooja” that is the day before “AYUDHA POOJA” day. It is to pray the goddess Saraswati to give knowledge.
All these will be to give respect for the strength, wealth and the knowledge. We are in a position to get our needs by praying the respective goddesses. Every man will be suffering from want of something or other. All their needs will be categorized in three major heads. They are wealth, health and knowledge. The object of celebrating the nine day festival is to pray the respected goddesses to offer these needs.
Generally, the persons who are invited to witness the Kolu will sing songs and in turn they will be respected by offering some gifts and snacks.
Now-a-days several private agencies have arranged to visit to look the Kolus kept in the houses and offer gifts for the well arranged Kolus.
It is a chance to express our expressions by way of arranging so many dolls made by various materials such as clay, wood, papier-mache etc., it is like an exhibition and show arranged by the private parties. Generally in the top steps the dolls connected with the goddesses will be arranged and in other steps so many dolls to denote the other occurrences held during Ramayana and Mahabharata days and various births of Lords to prove that none could override and succeed the heavenly creations and actions.
Mainly, the general indication is to prove that the human being could imagine and act only to certain extent and beyond that the heavenly actions will override the human knowledge and thinking and acts in superiority.
So, all the Hindu families are regularly celebrating this ancient customary festival without avoiding them. It is to be understood that the man must try to investigate the reasons for so many customary habits, discovering advanced things side by side and add them with the ancient and customary habits to get development in all the fields.
This festival is being celebrated in various zones in India and they are called by several names. In respect of Karnataka, more importance is being given for this festival especially in Mysore called “Dasahara”. Here, on all the nine days the palace of the ex-kings will be decorated by lightning arrangements and processions using the elephants will be mainly celebrated. More importance is given to praise the goddess Chamundeshwari who killed the monster called Mahishasura.So also in respect of north-east region especially in Kollkata during this celebration it is mainly devoted by praying to the Goddesses Durga and Kali.
It is to be construed that all evils will be destroyed and novel thinking and creation will be entertained by paying respect to the gods to offer sufficient knowledge, health and wealth.
The creation of several steps to place the dolls in the order to denote that man must come forward in life step by step, and finally reach the eternal stage.
These steps to place the several dolls will be in the order of single digits only. To give respect to the creator a kumbam which is made of coconut will be placed in the center of the steps and it will be decorated suitably. Then the other dolls in the order of their taste will be arranged and kept to give beautiful scenery.
The idea behind the celebration of nine days is mainly to collect the neighbors in houses, get united and adopt the policy of give and take among them. The main object of the birth is to continue up to longevity for which the basic needs are water and food. The next requirement is the habitation and the last is dresses worn. The third and final requirement is to understand the purpose of our birth. For the first requirement, it is enough that the food and water will suffice. For other needs the man has to find out the ways and means by using his knowledge.
On these principles the steps in the kolu will be so arranged and decorated. From the lower level to the top of the steps these principles are adopted and the dolls put up accordingly.
In the first three steps commencing from the lower level the essential and basic requirements for the man’s living like ground, fields, agriculturist, birds and vegetables are placed. In the center three steps the developments in various fields such as the novel houses, rupee coins, transport facilities and super human beings like king and queens, soldiers etc., are placed. In the final higher three levels the items denoting our knowledge in life style got by the wisdom from the goddess and saints are placed.
This is an important festival to denote the goddesses who are offering sufficient knowledge to live and make our life pleasant one.
The origin of birth is by the act of goddess Durga. The Goddess Lakshmi bestows wealth and Goddess Saraswati gives wisdom and knowledge. Hence in memorization to denote the three main goddesses are exhibited in the kolus arranged and put annually and all are invited to see and understand the principles behind them.
The benefits by adopting this cultural festival – Navratri
- Our tradition and culture will be maintained.
- The youngsters have a chance to show their skills and arts.
- It is a chance to meet our neighbors and spend joyful hours on all the nine days and strengthen their unity and cooperation.
- As the celebrations are held during the evening hours, it is possible for one and all to associate and enjoy fully.
- The dolls made of wooden are mainly placed to show our life style of our ancestor’s periods.
- It is a main source for the livelihood of the artists who are manufacturing these various kinds of dolls by using their skills on labor.
The aim of our ancestors in putting the dolls denoting other living beings in the Kolu is to show that we are not forgetting the past living and their coordination with the nature and its offerings. We should not simply treat the festival as a routine one but understand the truth behind it that the adoption of various cultures, getting united and enjoying ourselves in a great manner.
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