The Kolu tradition walked on the Silk route
In South India, the Navratra festival has a special tradition known as Kolu or Navratri Golu. The womenfolk set up decorated planks on which are placed beautiful dolls of gods and goddesses, saints, animals and birds, etc. for the festive 10 days. Kolu as one of the oldest forms of ‘edutainment', demonstrates the evolution of life on earth, with the dolls placed upon a progression of steps representing the most basic form of life to the highest or God himself.
Every effort is made to dress the dolls as well as possible by the household. The idea is to invoke the creator at this special time of introspection. Neighbours, friends and other relatives visit your home and view the decorations. Women exchange gifts, coconuts, clothes and sweets among themselves.
Recently, the pre-schoolers at The Indian School offered their presentation of this ancient yet resplendent invocation in their auditorium but in a unique manner. Instead of dolls, the children sat on the steps dressed not as deities but as flower, fish and other things which symbolised the faith and festivals of India, Persia, Venice and China. The four regions were a significant part of the historical trade network, and since the school theme of the year is ‘The Silk Route', it was woven into the presentation.