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Vilachery Village near Madurai – Makes Clay Dolls of Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Clay murtis (idols) of Hindu gods and goddesses are widely displayed during the Navratri festival. Vilachery Village near Madurai is famous for making clay murtis of Hindu gods and goddesses. The potters here have been making clay dolls for centuries.
The Hindu writes
“Though just 15 kilometres from Madurai, not many of the city people would have visited Vilachery,” notes Valli Annamalai, who spearheaded the project under the Crafts Committee of INTACH Madurai.
“It is a different world out there, where the earth is accorded much importance. People revere mud as God,” she says, “Out of the pancha-bhootas (five natural elements), earth is the easiest to feel and handle.”
 “We were excited to meet the oldest potter Sadasivam, who introduced Golu dolls to Vilachery,” says Reshma. “Potter Sadasivam had learnt the craft from Muruga Bhattar, who set up one of the first Golu doll shops in the city, near North Tower.”
“The kuyavar or Kuzhala community were patronised by the Kings for their skills. Their upward mobility in the society began with the popularisation of the Navaratri festival. The golu tradition helped them flourish,” points out Valli.
The clay craft however is said to have originated in Andhra Pradesh. Potters at Vilachery mention that two Telugu speaking people set up a shop near Thermutti a century ago.
“Navaratri festival called ‘Bomme Goluvu’ in Telugu was an encouragement for the potters as it brought brisk business and indirectly paved way for the desilting of water bodies ahead of monsoons,” reasons out Valli. “The Tiruparankundram tank is the source of livelihood for the potters.”