Golu or Bommai (Bhomma, Gombe Kolu)

Golu Means the Royal Court of Sakthi or Energy

നവരാത്രി ഗോലു
ഗോലു എന്നാൽ ശക്തിയുടെ രാജ സദസ്സ്

கொலு என்றல் சக்தியின் ராஜ அரங்கம்

Golu is the display of the entire Energy (Sakthi) forms in the Cosmic Universe using dolls and figurines arranged in odd (usually 3,5,7 or 9) numbered tiers ("padis") during the navarathri festival celebrations.

"Uni" means one and verse means "words arranged in a rhythmic pattern". Golu is a learning tool for both children and adults to understand that one Single Energy manifestingly evolves in a rhythmic order to a plethora of forms.

Keeping Golu at home is a way to invoke the Cosmic Energy for improving the quality of our life.

The Vedic science calls all perceptible energy forms as feminine or Prakruthi (Sakthi) and the unmanifest as Purusha (Brahmam) or masculine.  Like both the sperm and egg unite to form the zygote cell, which then multiplies and grows as a human being, the Purusha and Prakruthi unite to form Brahmanda and then multiplies and grows as the Universe.

The zero like round coconut represent the unmanifesting Purusha or maleness and the vessel below it , the khalasa represent the Prakruthi or Sakthi. The imprint of this union is present in each and every form like the genetic imprint of parents in each and every cell of the 100 trillion cells in the human body.

The pattern of our human body is similar to the universe pattern as in the sloka  "Yatha Pindae, thathaa Brahmandae". Like we grow in our mother's womb for nine months, nine step processes are involved evolution of the Universe.

Golu is a half pyramid with the dolls shopwing the perceptible manifestation and the other invisible half as the unperceptible aspect of Universe.

Everyone are invited to see  this exhibit and are offered prasad (the sacred offering) along with kukkum ("Tilak".) and some gifts  to girls and married women.

In the evenings, the oil Lamp  ("kuthuvilakku" ) is lit  in the middle of a decorated "kolam" (Rangoli), traditional the srichakra (Yantra) before the Golu and devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared, are offered to the Goddesses.

golu-1The oil lamp represents the inner light that we have to be aware of and the Yantra with the triangles represents the male (Consciousness) and female (matter) involved in the manifestation of all forms in this universe. 

     Golu is adorned with dolls - predominantly with that of the Gods and Goddesses depicting the creation of this Universe.

    Nine steps representing the Navagrahas or the nine modes of expression of the universe is done. It is the pure Consciousness , the One, that manifest as this universe. Hence in the first step , the pure Consciousness is symbolically represented as Kalasa is kept. A kalasa is done by kalasaplacing a coconut on a round vessel. The Kalasa is symbolic of a human who has the faculty to realize the Pure Consciousness. The three eyes of the coconut is the symbolism of the two physical eyes of man and the third of inner vision. The vessel represents the human body and the water in it represents the vital fluid of the body. The thread worn around the body represents the clothes over the body. The kalasa is placed on a red cloth to symbolize para-sakthi, the manifesting aspect of the Brahman.

In the next step, the Trimurthy Gods and Godesess are kept to represent the manifestation  of Energy in the form creation, maintenance and dissolution.

In the third step, objects representing the pancha bhootas are kept.

   In the fourth to seventh steps, dolls representing  other worldly objects are kept. It is very interesting that several caricature dolls even politician dolls, movie stars,  sportsmen, are also kept indicating everyone are the manifestation of the Pure Consciousness

In the eighth step, it is a traditional practice to have wooden dolls of  a man and women. This is to represent the the spirit (Purusha) and matter (Prakariti). The doll that is used are wooden (Mara-pacchi), which has two meanings, one is the literal meaning wood and the other is hereditary. Usually the man and lady dolls are passed on to generation after generation representing the ancestors. The mother  in law gives  the  dolls to the daughter in law after marriage to symbolize the passing of the tradition and family values.

    Children perform doll-marriage  to Purusha and Prakriti with the sankalpa of Vishnu and Lakshmi or Ram and sita or Krishna and Radha.  In this fun event children are imparted the cultural knowledge and importance of marriage. They are shown the importance of family and society through this dolls. Usually the dolls-wedding is done on the first day of Navarathri representing family life as the means to Spiritual life.

Gratitude to parents, relatives, friends, teachers, community and cosmic forces are shown by involving in the ceremony.

    In the ninth step, Lord Ganesha is kept. He represent the high "Energy" state (Mooladhaara) of all beings that potentially transcends to the Consciousness state. This is why he is first worshipped in all rituals.

Navarathri starts after the new moon day in September October months. That New moon day is good for doing "Ancestral" worship). The same day the Golu (kolu) steps are arranged with wooden planks or packing boxes. Make Nine steps.

The next day Ganesha is worshipped with the Awareness that the whole festival is helps to raise the Awareness. Then the dolls are arranged in a specific way to begin the festival.

Children take an active participation in Golu because that gives them the opportunity to display their creative talents. They make miniature parks, zoos, houses, cities , name any forms in Golu. Every evening children and adult sings traditional Vedic songs, chant mantras. It is a period of fun along with sweets and nine different types of legumes are sprouted and or cooked are offered to everyone as prasad. Health awareness is also imparted in Navarathri. In summary Navarathri is a Universal learning and display of Science and Arts along with Spirituality.

On the 9th day (Saraswati Puja), special pujas are offered to Goddess Saraswathi - the creative aspect of the mind. Books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge. Also all tools used in one's professional life are placed in the pooja - as part of "Ayudha Pooja". Even vehicles are washed and decorated, and puja performed for them. The understanding behind this is that it is that "One"  Consciousness that has manifested as the plethora of forms in this Universe.

In the Vedic tradition every object is worshipped (Acknowledged) as the manifestation of pure Consciousness. This is why all objects of action (Aayudha)  is worshipped in Navarathri. No object is spared in this ritual. All objects are adorned with Tilak as a mark of Awareness of the pure Consciousness.  

The 10th day, "Vijayadasami" - is the most auspicious day of all. It was the day on which evil was finally destroyed by good. As we have discussed earlier , Good and evil are the expression of Awareness verses Ego. It is the triumph of Awareness over Ego.  It marks a new and prosperous beginning. Hence new ventures started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity. Kids often start tutoring on this day to have a head start in their education. It is not uncommon to initiate new business ventures , fresh tasks etc. The logic is simple that the Awareness is sharpened through these festivals.

In the evening of "Vijayadasami", all the dolls from the "Golu" are put to sleep and the Kalasam is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year's Navaratri Golu.

Why are the dolls put to sleep?

In Vedic tradition, Golu represents the creation of this universe, created by Lord Brahma. He sleeps in his end of the day which cause the dissolution of the Universe. His timing is different than the human years and are of high mathematical figures (click here to know about Brahma's years in creation cycle). To symbolically express this dissolution the Golu dolls are put to sleep.

Why Kalasha moved to North?. We have discussed earlier that North is direction of none or "Brahman" or pure Consciousness. It is neutral.

East - Awareness -gods
West- Mind- Guru
South- Ego-body-Ancestors
North - Intellect-Brahman

One transcends to the Awareness state and finally to the pure Consciousness state.

Prayers are offered to thank God for the successful completion of that year's Golu and with a hope of a successful one the next year! Then the Golu is dismantled and packed up for the next year.

Source: This is an excerpt from the book "Vedic Universal Self Pattern", 2015.