For the last sixteen years, the ladies’ wing of the Vashi Fine Arts Society (VFAS) has been celebrating Bommai Kolu or Golu, a traditional toy festival during Navratri.
“In Tamil, Bommai means doll and Kolu means court or a durbar,” explained Mohana Iyer, secretary of VFAS. As part of the celebrations, clay figurines of different gods and goddesses are made. These dolls are then displayed in odd-numbered tiers, usually 7, 9 or 11. People are invited over to see the dolls and the artwork on them.
The VFAS organised the festival this year from October 7-9 at the Kannada Sangha Hall in Sector-9A, Vashi. Besides the seven-tier display of the beautifully crafted dolls, the function also included a chanting of shlokas by various groups of women, and cultural performances by children and adults alike. Haldi kumkum, a traditional part of Navratri, was also a part of the celebration.
Elaborating on the significance of the festival, Iyer added, “It is believed that Goddess Durga held a durbar just before she ventured on her mission to slay Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon. Hence, women have a Kolu with a kalasam (a pot) and Goddess Durga is invoked to reside in it.
We believe that she reigns over the household for the entire nine days. Essentially, it is a 10-day festival, where Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped for three days each. The tenth day is Vijayadashmi, the day when the demon Mahishasura was defeated by Goddess Durga,” explained Iyer.
According to Iyer, VFAS is a platform for budding artistes and is a stepping-stone to success. Many elders too deem it a privilege to sing hymns or play instruments at the festival. “Even though it is celebrated largely by women, a large number of gentlemen were also present to enjoy the performances,” Iyer said. More than 200 people attended the celebrations.