During Navarathri, all traditional Tamil house holds arrange dolls called golu in 9 successive slanting steps. The significance of golu is that Goddess Durga is sitting in her durbar(golu) prior to the slaying of Mahishasura. The house wives place golu with kalasam which depicts the goddess instead of a icon or photo. They invoke the goddess Durga to reside in the kalasam by the avahana puja. After this puja, It is believed that the goddess Durga reigns in the household for the entire nine days.
Along with the kalasam, clay idols of Gods and goddesses (man bommai) are arranged in according to the householder’s convenience in steps of 3,5,7 or 9. Generally, these man bommais are handed from one generation to another and so it is collected over the years. Golu is also said to symbolize the evolution of life and so the creators or Gods are placed in the top three tiers, The next 3 tiers are devoted to Godly men like rishis and munis . The last 3 steps depict the social life with the placement of helpers of our society like postman, police man, chettiyar, chettichi and miniature wedding sets,parks etc.
Daily Llalitha Sahasranamam is chanted in the morning and a neivedhyam (bhog) generally payasam/pongal made with jaggery is offered in the morning. To appease the navagraha deities sundal is offered as neivedhyam. Friends and relatives are invited home and offered haldi, kum kum and ravikkai thuni(blouse bits) along with sundal and other snacks. Children & women also exercise their vocal chords by rendering devotional songs . Daily aarthi is performed to the deity at the end of the day.
On saraswathi puja day, all books and tools( ayudha) are placed in front of Goddess saraswathi and Saraswathi puja is performed.
The tenth day is Vijayadashmi day – an auspicious day for starting good tasks and initiating children into education called ‘Akshara abhysam’. After the prayers and puja, one doll in the golu padi is made to ‘sleep’ on the rack perhaps symbolizing the end of the festival.
The next days golu dolls are packed back and put into the attic until use for the next year. The kalasa water is also poured back into a well or pond .
Having written all the above from hear say from elders , I still wonder how and who started this concept of Kolu?.
Some records mention that it started 500 years ago by Krishna Deva raya and some records mention it was started by Raja Raja Chola who encouraged artisans to make manbommais when they were rendered jobless after the construction of the periya koil.
Does anybody have authentic info?