Friday, September 30, 2011

More about Golu

Many of my blogger friends were asking me to write more about ' Golu' and the intricacies behind the arrangement.  Golu is the arrangement of dolls or 'bommais' which is a form of celebrating Navarathri. 

The navarathri we now celeberate is known as 'Sharad Navarathr'i. On the first phase of three days (nights) we worship Parasakthi as Durga. The word 'Durga' means one who gives protection to us from all evil tendencies. The other meaning is one who defends us from enemies. On the second phase of  three days we worship Devi Goddess) as Lakshmi who gives us prosperity. And on the last three days we worship Devi as Saraswathi, The Goddess of learning, music, dance and finer arts who gives us knowledge.

We  worship  Devi in all Her three forms. Lalita Saharsanamam is best chanted on all the ten days in the evening. On the tenth day which is called Vijayadashami we pray to Parasakthi to give us knowledge, and release from all our evil tendencies.

Clay dolls of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, village scenes, weddings, Dasavatar (the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu) and similar themes are exhibited in odd numbered steps also termed as 'Golu padi'.  These steps can be built upon using different sized boxes or readily available in shops now, all that it requires are screws and nuts to assemble. These steps can be put to use as a regular shelf later.

Traditional wooden dolls called ' Marapaachi' are adorned with grand clothing and jewellery are kept for display.  A ' Kalasam' is kept in the centre, this is a brass pot filled with water and a coconut on top amidst mango leaves.  Rangoli or 'Kolams' are put in front of the golu stand and at the door front door step. A lamp is lit daily.  Prasads or 'sundal' of various lentils are offered each day to Gods and Goddesses.  Friends and relatives are invited to witness the golu.  Devotional songs are usually sung by everyone who visits home.

The visitors are offered the daily prasad alongwith betel leaf, betel nut, coconut, blouse piece, small packets of haldi and kumkum, a small mirror and a comb.

Nowadays, we find improvisation in the traditional form of 'golu'. We find theme based and hi-fi ones too.  The skills and interests of the people are on display.  Waterfalls and volcanoes are conceived, miniature ponds with swans, miniature trains with junctions and parks, miniature depictions of Tirupathi and other holy shrines are created with utmost care taken on minute details to replicate the original.

The ninth day of Navarathri is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi.  Books covered in silk cloth and musical instruments are kept for pooja and blessings of the Goddess is sought.  Prasad of vada,appam,sundal and kheer is offered to Goddess.  This is also the day of Ayudha Puja literally meaning puja for tools being used at home.  Vehicles at home are washed and adorned with a paste of sandal powder, kukum and flower garlands..  Tools in factories are cleaned and adorned too.   Puffed rice with jaggery is offered as prasad to all the workers in factories and to all members at home.

The tenth day of Navarathri is the Vijayadasami day.  The books and tools which had been kept for worship will be removed and ready to be used.  It is a new beginning for young children, be it joining a new class like singing or dancing.  Toddlers begin their first lessons on this day.  In the night, symbolically portraying the end of golu, a couple of dolls are made to lie down.

Navarathri is a colorful festival with each region having their own traditional way of celebrating. No matter how the celebrations are, this brings joy and happiness to everyone and togetherness in the family.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Golu in Chennai

Hey friends, just back home after a two week visit to Chennai.  As Navarathri is nearing, there were golu dolls in Mylapore.  It was a beautiful sight and here for you all to enjoy as well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Unanimously loved by one and all - Jawwarisi /Sago pearls / Sabudana vadam

There used to be a time when vadams and pickles were never store bought.  Chennai has only summer and summer always, a slightly cool weather in December and January.  All the vadams would be prepared periodically and stored.  Ours was a bungalow type house but the neighbour's terrace would be visible.  At any point we can see someone or the other preparing vadams in their terrace.  I recall my mother making these and my sisters and me would be too willing to help her mainly to nibble at the vadams at different stages of drying.  It would begin with the dough tasting and slowly extend to the vadams itself.   Now, I see my cousins do not take the trouble of making it, instead readymades are available at reasonable cost.  But, I still enjoy preparing these.  Here,goes the recipe.

Jawwarisi or Sabudana - 2 cups
Green chillies - 10
Lime - 4 or 5

Soak Sabudana overnight.  Dissolve asoefoetida in three tablespoon of water.  Grind the green chillies to a fine paste. 

In a thick bottom vessel, cook the soaked sabudana with enough water.  Keep stirring till the pearls become transparent. Allow it to cool completely and at this point the consistency should be taken note of.  If the mixture is quite thick, it would thicken further while cooling and this would be a difficult venture later on.  Add just enough water so that the mixture is in semi-solid consistency.  Once it is cooled, add salt, asoefoetida, chilly paste and the lemon juice.  Check for taste and add the necessary ingredients accordingly.  Now, the mixture should be in a semi- solid consistency and not a pouring one.  Fill a ladle of mixture and place it in the plastic sheet directly under the sun.  It may take a couple of days before the vadam is dried completely. 

Vadams can be deep fried or can be toasted in the microwave.  Enjoy with piping hot rice and sambar. I like it that way.
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