Navarathri Kolu: A Continuing Family Tradition

Kamakshi Balasubramanian



Kamakshi Balasubramanian is a retired educator living in Mysore. She is an occasional writer. Her interests include cinema, popular culture, travel (particularly within India), and sewing by hand. Kamakshi received her higher education in India, the erstwhile U.S.S.R., and the U.S.A. She speaks Tamil, English, and Russian fluently, and knows Hindi.

For over 50 years, my sister Savithri has continued to follow an age-old southern-Indian tradition in Hindu families: Navarathri Kolu.

In the households that follow this tradition, the family sets up an arrangement of handmade figures made of wood or clay. The figures are generally religious divine beings, such as images of Vishnu reclining on a magnificent snake, Shiva in his exquisite dancing form, Lakshmi seated on a pink lotus, sometimes the Buddha under the Bodhi tree, and of course, Ganesha, without whose presence nothing auspicious ever gets off the ground in Hindu households.


Clay doll depicting Goddess Lakshmi on a pink lotus. Sourced from internet.

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