The custom of Navarathri Golu

What Durga Puja is to West Bengal, the Navarathri Bomma Golu is to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. This custom of creating a special display of dolls during Navarathri has multi-layered significance.

Navarathri Golu is a lot of fun.

Golu, or ‘display’ is a tradition where people create an arrangement of steps in their homes, and use it to showcase their most beautiful collection of traditional dolls, statues and other decorative items. Usually, nine steps are arranged. However, 3, 5 or 7 stepped Golus are also common. The more dolls you wish to display, and the more space you have, the larger your Golu could be. Even temples and public halls display their own Golus in a much larger scale, with some life-size statues of deities and three-dimensional models.

Golu Unleashes Combined Creativity

It’s not just about arranging the statues, though. This is the time when creativity peaks in many households, as children and adults come together to make their Golu unique by building mini parks, zoos, cities and other models besides the main step-like display. Plans are made weeks ahead. This is a great occasion for families to spend quality time making crafts and building display items together.

Golu offers a feast for your senses

During Navarathri, women and girls are invited to each other’s homes to view the golu and accept small gifts. Women sing in praise of the Lord as they admire each other’s Golu displays. Lentils are cooked and constitute the main snack during Navarathri evenings. Houses are decorated with lamps and flour drawings (Kolam or Rangoli) on the floors.

The custom of Navarathri Golu serves many functions.

  1. It encourages socializing, especially among women and children who in olden days did not have the opportunity to mingle with people outside their families. Today, when busy lifestyles and work schedules leave us with little time to visit friends and neighbors, this custom provides an opportunity to meet people and unwind after a hectic day. The Navarathri season is a great time for community events and group celebrations.
  2. Women usually get together to sing or chant shlokas (holy verses) in praise of Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Durga. Thus, many modern day women who don’t have the time or inclination to practice music or singing regularly, have the opportunity to learn new songs, refresh their memories and exercise their vocal chords, thus providing them with a creative outlet.
  3. The display itself is based on a structure – the lower steps allocated for inanimate objects, decorative items and animal statues. Statues of demi-gods and Gods are placed on the upper steps, the topmost step being reserved for the sacred Kalash or Kumbh (a silver or brass pot with a coconut placed at its mouth, representative of creation) and chief deities such as Ganesha, Shiva and others. This arrangement is both aesthetic and symbolic.
  4. Traditional Golu dolls are generally passed on from mother to daughter and so make wonderful family heirlooms. Preserving and passing these dolls on is a part of the south Indian culture and the custom of Navarathri Golu plays a role in keeping this rich culture and its elements such as dance, music and crafts alive.

Greeting friends and family, especially parents, grandparents and other elders to seek their blessings is an important part of Navarathri, just as any other Indian festival. This year, if you are unable to celebrate Navarathri with them for some reason, Free Ecards could be a great way to send your wishes instead. Choose from our selection of Free Durga Puja ecards and brighten their hearts this Navarathri. You could also use your own photos and create personalized photo cards if you prefer.

What is your favorite Navarthri custom?

What is the story of Durga Puja?

Ma Durga
Ma Durga

Navarathri – India’s Holiday Season Begins

In just a couple of weeks begins Navarathri – India’s famous and much awaited annual festival. Thanks to India’s diverse culture, it is celebrated in different ways across the country, traditions and customs varying from region to region. However, the underlying commonality of this festival is its essence – the celebration and worship of Mother Goddess.

Shakti – the Goddess of Cosmic Power

In Hinduism, God is thought to comprise of two halves – the masculine and feminine aspects. The masculine aspect is represented by deities such as Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Rama. The Goddess, who represents Shakti or cosmic power takes on various forms such as Lakshmi(Goddess of wealth), Saraswathi(Goddess of knowledge), Durga(representing fierce courage and strength), Kali(representing wrath – aimed at those who cause harm to her worshippers) and Sita(representing purity and virtue). Navarathri is a festival that celebrates all these divine manifestations of the Goddess.

Different parts of India celebrate this occasion in different ways. Prominent among the celebrations are the Durga Puja festivities of West Bengal and the Navarathri Bommagolu custom of southern India.

Durga Puja

In Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga is believed to be the warrior Goddess. She rides her Vahana(vehicle)- the lion and destroys evil whenever it raises its head.  It is in this way – mounted on her lion and with weapons in her hands – that she destroyed Mahisasura – the demon who had acquired the power of invincibility. The eighteen armed Durga was the only one who could match and overpower him, which is why she is also referred to as Mahisasura Mardhini( Destroyer of Mahisasur)

References to Durga are found in Vedic texts and in the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Besides being revered for her ferocious, warrior-like qualities, Goddess Durga is also known as the benevolent and kind Goddess, who protects her devotees from harm. This is the reason why Durga Puja has such a prominent place in Navarathri.

As many other Hindu festivals, Durga Puja is marked by the preparation of various kinds of sweet dishes for offering to the Goddess, people wearing their finest, offering elaborate prayers to Durga Mata, exchanging sweets and gifts and carrying a statue of Durga on a procession through the city, with devotees chanting, singing her praises and dancing to drum beats and music.

The very first time you witness West Bengal’s Durga Puja, expect to be blown away by the extravaganza that includes lights, arrangements, decorations, sounds and music.

Of course, underneath the dazzle of it all, lies the simple truth – which is the only thing that matters. Durga Puja, like almost all other festivals of India, serves as a reminder to people that truth, righteousness, virtue and benevolence ought to be the real pursuits in life. Everything else is fleeting.

Which is why, even if you are far away from your family and can’t celebrate Durga Puja with them, you can still greet them with free Durga Puja Ecards. You may not be able to partake in the celebrations, or splurge on expensive gifts. But, you’re sending your friends and family heartfelt best wishes and hoping that the Mother Goddess showers her blessings on them. What more could anyone really ask for? I think if you looked hard enough, you might even catch Goddess Durga nodding and smiling in approval of your choice.

Send Durga Puja Ecards Today!

Happy Durga Puja
Happy Durga Puja

It’s October again it must be time for Durga Puja. It’s that time of the year again when we all take a break from the daily rigors and enjoy the fun and festivities. We dance to the drums, visit the best pandals (elaborate and beautiful tents) in our best attire and thank “Ma Durga” for our good fortune .

But it is also a time to let your closed ones know you really care for them by sending them an ecard. So don’t procrastinate and send a Durga puja ecard today!  All our cards are animated and thus capture the essence of the “dhak” (drums) and the “dhunuchi” (ceramic vessel).  While you are at it send them Halloween eCards too.

Editors Note: Durga Puja is the most important festival in West Bengal, India. Like most other mythological tales it celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is generally celebrated over 5 days in October and most of Eastern India comes to a standstill during the celebration.

Culture Brings The World Closer

It’s a known fact that cultures around the world share a lot in common, despite their contrasts. Many traditions & beliefs have similar roots & significance across the globe.

Take Halloween for example. Do you know how similar Halloween traditions are to Asian Indian customs practiced during the lunar months of Ashwin-Karthika, that happen to fall around October?

People in the west believe that Halloween symbolizes the return of spirits to the earth. In India, it is believed that spirits of the elders in the family visit during the Ashwin month. In some parts of India, people perform special rituals for an entire fortnight to honor the presence of the elderly spirits. Halloween is the time when people hang lanterns & decorate the front porch with glowing candles, lights, scarecrows & dolls. In India, the festival of Dusssehra falls during the same time. This festival is marked by lighting rows of earthen lamps or ‘Diyas’ in front of houses. The highlight of Halloween is kids in costumes going from door to door collecting candies & sweet treats. During Dussehra or Durga Puja, children in many parts of India go from house to house, dressed in fine clothes, singing devotional songs, collecting goodies & treats. People in some parts arrange their best dolls and collectibles in a special staircase style display for friends and neighbors to admire.

The astounding similarities go on. Around the world, there are countless examples like these. Perhaps, it just goes to show that the world is indeed round and people across the planet share more in common than they realize.

Do you know of any such cultural parallels?