The girls, Hitesh and I recently celebrated the South Indian Tamil fall festival of Golu, and what a fun time we had visiting all our friend’s and families’ homes to view their Golu displays.
What is Golu? Golu is observed every fall during the ten-day Indian festival of Navrathri and is celebrated in South Indian Tamil homes, especially by the women of the household. During this festival, in the evenings, women in the neighborhood invite each other to visit and view their Golu displays, and to celebrate the arts, music, and education.
Golu displays are odd-numbered steps depicting various scenes in Indian mythology using dolls, toys, souvenirs and collectables. Some people even create elaborate scenes with Legos and any toys and dolls that convey a story or a theme. Golu also gives an opportunity for the women and their families to show off their artistic side.
During the viewing of Golu, kids and adults alike are encouraged to share their artistic talents by singing or playing a musical instrument of their choice.
On the 9th day of the festival a special puja (religious celebration) is offered to goddess Saraswati who is the Goddess of wisdom, arts, music, sciences and enlightenment. Books and musical instruments are placed in front of an idol of Saraswati and kids pray to her for good grades 😄 and good source of knowledge.
The tenth day is the last day of the Golu festival and is called Vijayadasami. This is considered to be 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 projects initiated on this day are believed to succeed and flourish, and kids in Southern India often start tutoring on this day and some young kids start pre-school as well.
The History of Golu: Raising Demand for Clay in Ancient Southern India
The tradition of Golu is actually one of business acumen that was started in ancient India as a way to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds for the benefit of the agriculture community in south India in the autumn months.
The Golu celebration was aimed at raising demand for clay from such activities – because in the old days most dolls, toys and statues were made of clay, the Golu celebration not only provided an economic benefit to the festival, it also presented an opportunity for the community to meet and socialize by displaying their dolls and statues. During this festival relatives and friends in South India make it a point to visit each other’s homes.
We had a great time at this year’s Golu celebration, it gave us an opportunity to get dressed in colorful Indian clothing, meet a few friends and family, hear some wonderful music, and see some beautiful Golu displays. I also came away with a few cool recipes to share as well 😊.