Navarathri and its significance


Come Navarathri and it’s that time of the year to bring out the ‘golu’ dolls in the house, in most Tamil homes. During Navarathri, most traditional Tamil households arrange and display dolls of Gods and Goddesses, celestial beings, martyrs, saints, mortals, animals, and other such dolls on successive steps, (to a maximum of nine steps) in a sequential order.

From the top, on the first step, idols of God's are placed. The arrangement of idols continues for the next three successive steps. On the fourth, fifth and sixth steps are placed saints, siddhars and dolls of holy men or women who have dedicated their lives to the service of God or people who have led exemplary lives in their devotion to God. This also includes dolls of noble men like freedom fighters, philanthropists' and social workers who have led a significant life. On the seventh, eighth and ninth steps are placed dolls of ordinary human beings playing their role in everyday life, like vendors, fruit sellers and farmers. Then the last steps are for the animals and crawling creatures that are also a part of life.

The above is the general order of arrangement. Beside the steps, an arrangement of events like marriage ceremony or a display of a game of cricket are also present on the area marked for golu. This is the general order, though many people deviate from it to display the dolls in their own creative way, but the underlying concept remains the same.

There are many interpretations of ‘Golu,’ the most common being, symbolising the evolution of life and so the creators or Gods are placed on the topmost step. The arrangement is a representation of the hierarchy in life – starting from insects, then animals and then holy men right upto the creators or Gods.

It is also believed that the underlying idea behind ‘Golu’ or the sequence of arranging dolls in a particular order is a reminder to humankind to reach the pinnacle of truth - which is God. It is seen as a symbolic representation of the fact that ordinary human beings, through their good deeds can raise themselves to the level of saints and then merge with god.

Golu is a time to celebrate and reinforce religious sentiments in a simple yet creative fashion. It is also the time to invite and meet near and dear ones - strengthening family ties.

Navarathri celebrations last nine days and nights. Besides the Golu arrangement, all nine days are devoted to the worship of the Goddesses – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The first three days are set aside for the worship of Goddess Durga to help us destroy all our vices and defects. The next three days are devoted to Goddess Lakshmi to whom we plead for material and spiritual wealth, while the last three days are dedicated to the worship of Goddess Saraswathi, to whom we pray for wisdom.

The goal of human beings is demonstrated through Golu in a simple yet effective way, of merging with God, whatever may be our circumstances.

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