Festive display of dolls embellishes Navaratri in New Zealand

Guests at the home of Ramprakash Govindarajulu and Yogalakshmi Buvanasekaran during a Navaratri evening (Photo Supplied)

And homes are again the rendezvous for prayers, music and food

Venkat Raman

Auckland, October 16, 2022

One of the most significant aspects of the recently concluded ‘Navaratri’ (Dusshera) was the widescale revival of ‘Golu’ in South Indian homes.

Following two years of lockdown and despair, Navaratri 2022 was celebrated with dignity, honour, fun, worship and fellowship by Hindus, led by the Gujarati community with gatherings at many centres. Almost every family was filled with relatives and friends enjoying the evenings, which always ended with a sumptuous meal,

An increasing number of Tamil homes had ‘Golu,’ a festive display of dolls, with each evening witnessing visits by friends after a length of time.

Ramprakash and Yogalakshmi

Among the homes that were filled by men, women and children were that of Ramprakash Govindarajulu, (an SAP Consultant), his wife Yogalakshmi Buvanasekaran (Change Manager at a commercial undertaking) and their sons Kalyanvishnu and Deepvishnu.

The family has been celebrating the annual ‘Bommai Golu,’ in Auckland since 2014, which Mr Ramprakash said, has been a tradition that has transcended many generations.

Golu display at the home of Ramprakash Govindarajulu and Yogalakshmi Buvanasekaran (Photo Supplied)

“Every year we prepare for this season in advance, conceptualise, and add new characters and idols. As well as inviting friends from different walks of life, we also take the pleasure of extending our culture, value and heritage to non-Indians including Kiwis. When they visit our home during Navaratri, we explain to them the concept of ‘Golu,’ its religious, social and cultural significance with anecdotes,” he said.

He said that the dolls are exhibited in a thematic pattern with a specific number of steps in odd numbers. The top steps are reserved for Gods and Goddesses including Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Goddess Lakshmi, while the bottom step depicts traders., devotees and commoners.

Mr Ramprakash said that the dolls from brought from India.

Kalyanvishnu and Deepvishnu Ramprakash entertained guests at their home during Navratri 2022 (Photo Supplied)

“We keep adding new dolls to our collection. We host a few evenings of visits from friends, colleagues and parents from our children’s school. Kalyan and Deep play musical instruments and the Tabla as an offering to the Deities and to entertain guests. Talented guests sing and enhance the value of the celebrations,” he said.

Usha and Ramesh Venkataraman

Usha Subramaniam (who works in the hospitality sector) and her husband Ramesh Venkataraman live as a joint family with their young daughter and Usha’s parents. They organise the Golu festival with passion and invite friends and their families.

“Navarathri enables women, who were in the past confined to home cooking and maintaining the family and later became employed, now have opportunities to be culturally creative and to give vent to their creative talents. Young female children are being encouraged to participate in the Navarathri celebrations,” Usha said.

Bommai Golu at the home of Usha Subramaniam and Ramesh Venkataraman (Photo Supplied)

She said that her husband, daughter and parents help in decorating their home, putting together the Golu and in receiving guests.

“Navarathri is also a good occasion to visit homes and invite family and friends, thereby fostering good neighbourliness and members of other ethnic groups. Visiting homes enhances the spirit of friendship and goodwill and enables other ethnicities to follow closely the meaning and purpose of the Festival,” she said.

Ragavan and Alamelu Rengachariar

Although they skipped the Golu display this year, Auckland couple Ragavan and Alamelu Rengachariar recited Navaratri prayer each evening and invited friends to share their Prasadam.

According to Ragavan, Founder-Director of RAMS Foundation, a charitable trust, the significance of Navarathri is that it is difficult to control the mind from evil or negative thoughts.

“The Festival reminds us to fight and discard them, imbibe positive thoughts and pray for the well-being of all communities. When there is harmony and prosperity, the environment is one of unity and cooperative spirit,” he said.

Navarathri is a busy season for makers of Deities and other dolls, garment manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and makers of sweets, vegetarian food and other items. These are usually sold at stalls set up at community halls, temples and other places where a large number of women and children gather.

Usha Subramaniam with her daughter Ahalya (Photo Supplied)

About the Navaratri Golu

Golu is the festive display of dolls and figurines in South India during the autumn festive season, particularly around the multiday Navaratri (Dussehra or Dasara) festival of Hinduism. These displays are typically thematic, narrating a legend from a Hindu text to court life, weddings, everyday scenes, and miniature kitchen utensils.

They are also known as Kolu, Gombe Habba, Bommai Kolu or Bommala Koluvu.

Each item in a Golu display is called a Golu doll or equivalent.

These are typically made by rural artisans from clay and wooden materials and are brightly painted. They are generally arranged in an odd number of Padis (tiers or steps) to tell a story. Goddess-related themes are common, along with developments such as anticipated weddings within the family and of friends. During the Golu display season, families and neighbours visit each other with gifts to view and chit-chat over the Golu display, share festive foods, and sometimes play music or sing devotional songs together.

Major Hindu places of worship such as the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, arrange elaborate Golu displays each year for Navaratri.

Bommai Kolu in Tamil means Doll Decoration. Bommala Koluvu in Telugu means Court of Toys and Gombe Habba means Doll Festival in Kannada.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this story

Related Stories

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement