Festivals & Significance

Navarathri Golu – 2010 & Significance of Marapachi Dolls.

Navarathri Golu 2010

This year, I have my second daughter is who just turning one this month on the 24`th, so planning for Golu was something  I had postponed to the very end of the day!  I had all the paraphernalia out and I was wondering If I was really out to put myself through monitoring the little one all through the day…and finally It dawned on me, that I really had to do it this year. I wanted the fun of watching her out of the corner of my eyes, to see if she is getting anywhere close, while she watches me closely so she can pounce on the little wax squash that I had added to the vegetable collection and disappear with it!!!. I wanted to experience the joy of seeing her eyes light up when she finds a little gap between the chairs that I have used as reinforcement, just before the golu shelves, and tries to reach out and climb the stairs!!! I wanted this as I know she will be growing up to be a sensible toddler very soon….and I am enjoying every moment of it. I hardly get to chant my shlokams in one contiguous  slot, nor complete my chores at any point of time…but I am enjoying this minute, with my little baby…and loving every moment of it!!!

Marapachi Dolls - Traditionally attired in wedding finery!
Marapachi Dolls.

Every time there is a festival or a special day marked by a religious custom, my daughter would want to know the  reason and the significance of that festival, which led to Significance of Navarathri . Many times this leads me to soul searching for the same . I firmly believe in the Hindu culture and that every ritual has been evolved with a very scientific reason, within the premises of the traditions at that time. The Marapachi Dolls are one such tradition which form one of my prized possessions, of my wedding gifts from my mother`s home.   The Marapachi Dolls , are a pair of male and female dolls, carved out of this reddish wood called “Marapachi” have been a traditional part of every wedding , which is gifted by the parents of the bride.   Tradition dictates that the bommais are brought out in display, every year, at the time of Navarathiri. The bride’s parents present these dolls to the bride and initiate the yearly tradition of Navarathiri Gollu in her new home with her husband. These bommais come as couples dressed in their wedding attire, signifying the start of the bride’s Gollu collection, which then grows over the years with the addition of various clay dolls signifying various Gods and Godesses.

Marapachi bommais are special dolls from Tirupathi, the land of Lord  Venkateshwara. Some explain the word Marapachi as a special kind of
wood that has medicinal values and hence the name Marapachi Bommai .  And like any age-old tradition, you can’t help but wonder, what is the significance of  Marapachi Bommais? Some believe that these dolls were presented to the bride and the groom at the time of marriage as toys for the couple. After all when two people, rather two children, get married at the age of ten what better gift than toys to keep them happy. So, it is reckoned that they were truly for enjoyment purposes to please the little couple. Yet another lore had it that these dolls dressed in their wedding attire helped in capturing the moment in the days where technology was clearly non-existent. In the absence of pictures, what better way to remember the way you looked when you were married !! That seemed to me , to be a lovely explanation for  this beautiful custom.

(Source : Shalu Ramachandran)