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Navaratri Dolls

The display of dolls during Navratri is a major event in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and for some communities in Karnataka and Kerala. This display of dolls is known as Navratri Kolu or Golu. In Andhra Pradesh, it is known as Bommala Koluvu. The dolls symbolically represent the army or assembly (durbar) of Goddess Durga. It is also believed that the assembly is held just before the famous battle between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura, which ultimately ends in the victory of good over evil. In 2024, the display of Navaratri Dolls begins on  October 3 and ends on October 12.

Navaratri Kolu dolls are a proud possession for many families and to find 50 or 100-year-old Navratri dolls is not rarity in a traditional Hindu family in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The most important Navaratri dolls are the Marapachi figures – a pair of male and female.

Majority of the dolls displayed are of Hindu gods and goddesses. Also on display are figures of prominent personalities, historical characters and freedom fighters. Miniatures of monuments, temples and other important buildings are prominently displayed. Tools and other objects used in daily life also forms part of the Kolu display. Nowadays, almost all types of figures and dolls that are available in market can be seen in a Golu display.

Today, the assembly of Durga is slowly being replaced by other display. Many women use Navaratri Golu as an opportunity to display their artistic talents. Moving away from traditional display in nine steps, they create scenes from Mahabharata, Ramayana or other Hindu scriptures. Some people create zoos, parks, office, modern streets and scenes of important events in the year using dolls. There is also a healthy competition among women in a neighborhood to make the best Navratri Golu display.