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Dolled up for Navratri

When it comes to Indian culture, many believe in continuing with traditions and fulfilling age-old customs. This sentiment is deeply rooted in K S Balasubramanian’s heart, who has been following the age-old south Indian tradition of displaying a nine step Golu for worship at his Kharghar residence during the nine-day festival of Navratri.


I-doll worship: K S Balasubramanian and his wife Ananthalakshmi proudly display their golu collection at their Kharghar home

K S took five days to assemble the nine-step set-up and the dolls are arranged as per their significance and importance. He has a total of 130 dolls displayed in his Golu this year and claims that the dolls have cost him approximately Rs 25,000.

The traditional belief is that a Golu may be displayed in a home only if there is a daughter or a daughter-in-law in the family. The Balasubramanians were a family of only sons until KS Balasubramanian got married in 1966. Since then, the Golu has become a traditional practise in the Balasubramanian household.

“When I got married to him, I was the daughter-in-law of the family, and from that year onwards, K S began displaying the Golu with the dolls at our home in Chembur. He continued to do so until 1992 when work forced us to move to south India. The journey resulted in many of the dolls breaking, which is why we had to discontinue displaying the dolls during Navratri every year,” said Ananthalakshmi, KS’s wife.

For the Golu to be displayed, it is necessary for the dolls to be made of clay and not of Plaster of Paris or any other material. Since many of the dolls were ruined while moving to the south, K S discontinued displaying the Golu at his home. Once he moved to Kharghar, he once again began procuring the clay dolls and began displaying the Golu at his residence after a hiatus of 18 years.

“In 2010, my son and I decided to once again begin displaying the Golu at our residence. But since the dolls were available only in Banrutti near Pondicherry, I made a trip to the place myself and purchased dolls for the Golu and I have been displaying it every year since,” said K S.

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