When people come to person’s house to see the Kolu, usually they give prasad (the offering given to God that day), kumkum, a holy powder and small bag of gifts. In the evenings, “kuthuvilakku” (small lamp) is lit, in the middle of a decorated “kolam“(Rangoli), before the Kolu and devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the goddesses.
Kolu is adorned with dolls – predominantly with that of the gods and goddesses depicting mythology. It is a traditional practice to have at least some wooden dolls. There should also be a figurine of a boy and a girl together called ‘Marapacchi’ Bommai. On the 9th day (Saraswati Puja), special pujas are offered to Goddess Saraswati – the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment. Books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge. Also, tools are placed in the pooja as part of “Ayudha Pooja”. Vehicles are washed and decorated, and puja is performed for them. The 10th day, “Vijayadasami” – is the most auspicious day of all. It was the day on which evil was finally destroyed by good. It marks a new and prosperous beginning. New ventures started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity. Kids often start tutoring on this day to have a head start in their education. In the evening of “Vijayadasami”, any one doll from the “Kolu” is symbolically put to sleep and the Kalasam is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year’s Navaratri Kolu. Prayers are offered to thank God for the successful completion of that year’s Kolu and with a hope of a successful one the next year. Then the Kolu is dismantled and packed up for the next year.
Like any festival, Kolu also has a significant connection with agricultural economy of ancient India. It is said that in order to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds the Kolu celebration was aimed at providing demand for the clay material got from such activities. There are many customs and beliefs in different parts of India that imbue sacred status to clay. Dissolving Ganesha dolls made of wet clay into the water system is one such belief. Another example is the Bengali tradition of using clay that has been tread upon by the most beautiful girl in the area to construct a doll of the Goddess Kali, the belief being that this would be the best way to approximate the perfect features of the Goddess. This festival is fun to celebrate but I have not celebrated even once as only Brahmins celebrate and we are Khastrias but in future I will try my level best to celebrate this festival in future.