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Bommai Kollu

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Life is a dream
Staff member
The Navratri Bommai Kollu Festival is held in almost every South Indian Tamilian house. It commences on the Amavasya day of the month of Bhadrapada, the last day of Pitripaksha.

On the Amavasya day after finishing the rituals, like offering `tarpana etc. the custom is, to keep the Kalash filled with rice, toor dal haldi sticks, betel leaves and nuts or mango leaves with a coconut on it. The most important thing is to keep two wooden dolls specially brought from Tirupathy. The wooden dolls are anointed with oil and bathed and decorated as bride and groom. The right muhurtam is chosen before placing the Kalash and the dolls for worship, with which the Kollu festival begins.

The dolls are given to the girl from her parents during her marriage and are called "Marapachi Bommai". From this day she starts the ceremony of Kollu going on adding Bommais from South. Marapachi means a special kind of wood which has medicinal value too and Bommai means dolls. Kollu means displaying.

The Kollu is done by constructing wide tiers or steps in any number, maximum being seven. The number of tiers or steps should be in even numbers, like, one, three, five and so on. One can erect nine steps too if space and time permits. Variety of dolls are displayed artistically and arranged beautifully on the steps.

From the day the married girl gets the Marapachi Bommai she starts collecting dolls and observes the ceremony annually. All Gods and Goddesses of our epics and puranas are displayed on the tiers which are beautifully decorated. For example, for `Garuda Vahana' i.e. God Narayan taken in Garuda Vahan or vehicle is kept. One of the items exhibited is the Marriage Set called `Malam Talam' i.e. the marriage procession of relations and friends led by musical players of clarionet (malam) and mridangam (talam). Then there, is the `Dashavatar' set episodes from Ramayana and Krishna Leela. One can add more dolls but should not decrease the number.
During these nine days ladies are invited and offered haldi kumkum with betel leaves and fruits. Sweets and 'chundals' (made of chana) are offered to the ladies. Ladies dress up in their finery and ornaments and find an opt occasion to dress up specially their daughters.

On the ninth day, the day before the Vijay Dasami day, falls the Saraswati Puja. Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of Learning and hence books musical instruments etc, are decorated with flowers and worshipped. Vijay Dasami or the Dussera Day is the auspicious day when all fine arts like, dance, music, or any new venture in learning is begun.

It is the 'Learners' Day. A child beginning his first lessons of alphabets begins it on this day ceremoniously. Prayers are offered to Goddess Saraswati and her blessings sought. Token of Guru Dakshinas are also given to the respective Gurus. The lamp or diya once lit is continuously kept burning for twenty-four hours for ten days. Some people observe it even today.
On the tenth night after the ceremonial arti and prayers the, `Marapachi' are put to sleep. And, the next day the exhibits are packed carefully in cloth or paper and preserved for use the next year. Vijay Dasami and Navratri are also the auspicious time for buying new clothes and feasting. Unlike other Vrats, there is no custom of fasting during Navratri Kollu. Navratri Bommai Kollu is celebrated more out of enthusiasm, according to one's space, time and purse, and more for meeting each other and keeping good relationship with all.

Courtesy: Free Press Journal
Devi bhagavatham 3 volumes in tamil translation is available in Giri trading agency. In punjab fasting for navarathri 9 days are there. also in Tamilnadu we are having fasting for 9 days during navarathri. we willl take only cofee tea complan for nine days .and doing navavarana poojai; suwasini and kumaari poojai and chandi homam on vijayadasami day. we will read daily kadga mala; lalitha sahasranamam; trishadi; durga,lakshmi sarasvathi sthothras; devi mahathmyam,and devi bhagavatham. Swamy santhanantha group is observing fast here. For the past 25 years I am observing fasting during navarathri days.

During navarathri for each day for each thithi and for each star and for each yoga and karana neivedhyam to be done is written in devi bhagavatham book.

ALso many people are observing fasting for 6 days after deepavali upto skandha shasti (soora samharam) day.

The Kollu is done by constructing wide tiers or steps in any number, maximum being seven. The number of tiers or steps should be in even numbers, like, one, three, five and so on. One can erect nine steps too if space and time permits.
Dear Praveen
I was just reading your posting on Bommai Kollu. If the maximum permissible number of steps is seven then how can one arrange
kollu in nine steps, even if space and time permits? Also if the number of steps should be even then how 1,3, 5, etc are possible?
கொலு பொம்மை கொலு பொம்மை கொலு பொம்மை பாருங்கள்
எல்லாரும் என்ன அம்மா பண்ணின கொலு பொம்மை பாருங்கள்
என்ன அம்மா பண்ணின கொலு பொம்மை போல் எதுவும் இல்லை உலகிலே

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