Monday 4 October 2021

How to Arrange Golu Dolls for Navarathri/Significance of Golu/Customs and rituals followed to Arrange Golu Dolls during Navarathri/Steps followed to remove the Golu Dolls/How to keep Golu

 Golu is the beautiful display or arrangement of dolls in South India during Navarathri which falls in the autumn season. Navaratri is a special festival dedicated for the worship of Goddess Durga. Navaratri is a Sanskrit word – “Nava” means nine and “Ratri” means night. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakthi are invoked at our homes and worshiped for peace and prosperity. Dusshera or VijayaDasami denotes the last day of the festivities. For the quick links -  for Navaratri/Golu Recipes please click this link

Golu displays are particularly popular in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Bommai Golu/Golu Pandigai which means “Festival of Dolls” in Tamil. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana it is celebrated as Bommala Koluvu which means “Court of Toys” in Telugu and in Karnataka it is celebrated as Bombe Habbe which means “Doll Festival” in Kannada.

Whether it is Golu Pandigai or Bommala Koluvu or Bombe Habbe, it is all about the display of dolls of the Gods & Goddesses of Hindu Mythology and also depicting stories of our past and present.

Traditionally the 9 days are divided into three sets of three days. The first three days is dedicated for the worship of Goddess Durga, the next three days for the worship of Goddess Lakshmi and the last three days for the worship of Goddess Saraswathi.

Important dates of when to keep Golu for the year 2021

Navaratri Starts on Oct 7th 2021 ends on Oct 15 th 2021

Mahalaya Amavasya - Oct 6th 2021 - set up the golu steps and arrange the dolls in the evening

Navaratri Pooja begins - Oct 7th 2021 - Keeping the kalasam in the morning and start the pooja

Ayudha Pooja - Oct 14 th 2021

Saraswathi Pooja - Oct 15th 2021

Significance of Golu

Golu showcases various mythological stories and ancient scriptures like Dasavathaaram, Ramayanam, Mahabaratham, about Alwars, 63 Nayanmars and many more. During this time of the year these interesting, touching and valuable stories are narrated to the kids. This in fact helps us to remember the roots, customs and traditions that are passed on from one generation to the next.

Navarathri is an important occasion for socializing with friends, relatives etc. This is a very important occasion show casing the creativity of women and for the whole family to work together.

Things needed to keep golu

  1. Golu Padi/Steps and of course golu dolls
  2. Veshti/Dhothi or saree to cover the golu padi. Safety pins for tucking the veshti to the golu padi
  3. Kuthu vilakku -2
  4. Serial lights and decorative items(optional).
  5. Kalasa Sombu, coconut, turmeric powder, fresh mango leaves, rice, cardamom, rose water.
  6. Navadhaniyam or mustard/methi to make mulaipari [which I have described below]  

Things to be done before keeping the golu

  1. As we are inviting and invoking the goddess in our house, clean the house thoroughly without any cobwebs and clear out all the unwanted things from the house.
  2. Clean and decorate the pooja room and wash all the pooja vessels before assembling the golu padi,
  3. Wash the kalasa Sombu/Kalash and keep it ready.
  4. Choose the right place to set up the golu padi usually facing East direction. Once the golu padi is set and dolls are arranged, they cannot be moved till Vijayadasami.
  5. Get all the dolls ready, wipe the dolls with a clean cloth.
  6. Get all the decorative items for hanging in doors and windows ready.
  7. Get some artificial flower hangings or a silk saree for decorating the background of the golu padi.
  8. Mulaipari – refers to the navadhaniyam[nine different types of grains] or mustard/methi grown in small mud pots. Mulaipari signifies the prosperity and happiness in the family also shows respect to gods for blessing a good harvest. These grains are sowed in small mud pots, 4 days before the festival begins as they would sprout by then. After which they are kept in front of the golu.

When to arrange the Golu Dolls

The golu dolls are arranged on the golu steps in the evening of Mahalaya Amavasaya.

When to keep the Kalasam ?

The kalasam for the golu is kept on the day following Mahalaya Amavasaya in the morning. After the kalasam is kept, neivedhyam is offered and pooja is done.

How to Keep Golu?

  • Assembling the Golu Steps

The display of dolls/bommai is done on the Golu Padi/steps which are usually odd numbered - 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11. The golu steps can be either metal or wooden, which needs to be assembled or the steps can be made using tables or boxes.

  • Covering the Golu steps

After assembling, cover the golu steps with either White Dhothi/Veshti or with bright colored silk saree. Use safety pins or bell pins to pin the veshti/dhothi for tucking the cloth with the stand.

  • Arrange the dolls on the steps – I have explained below
  • Keep the Kalasam – I have explained below
  • Keep serial lights in the golu steps to make it look bright and beautiful.
  • Light two kuthu vilakku’s on both sides of the golu stand.
  • Keep the mulaipari in front of the golu stand.
  • Draw kolam [Maakolam] or stick any kolam stickers in front of the golu. If you are drawing kolam then make sure you draw a new kolam every day.

Rules for Arranging Golu Dolls

  • Counting the steps from the top, the first step is dedicated to the supreme God and goddess like Vinayagar, Goddess Lakshmi, Durga, Saraswathi, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lord Murugan.
  • Usually the incarnation sets like Dasavathaaram, Ashtalakshmi sets are arranged in the second and third steps of the padi.

How to keep Kalasam ?

There are two different ways to fill the kalasam, it totally depends on what tradition is followed in each household. Let us see both the ways of filling the kalasam pot.

The kalasam is placed in the first 3 steps. 

First Method of filling the kalasam pot

A pot made up of copper, brass or silver forms the base and is kept on plate spread with raw rice. 

The pot is then filled with fresh water, a pinch of turmeric, 3 cardamoms and little rose water or vettiver, 5 coins, Javvadhu powder [2 pinches].  Make sure the water level is such a way that it does not touch the bottom of the coconut.

Fresh Mango leaves are inserted in to the kalasam and then a coconut smeared with turmeric is placed on top. Once the kalasam is kept in the golu padi it should not be moved till the end of Vijayadasami.

Second Method of filling the kalasam pot

The Kalasam pot is filled with rice and dal [Thoor dal/thuvaram paruppu] up to the neck.

Keep one turmeric inside the rice.

Insert some coins into the rice.

Next insert fresh mango leaves into the rice, then  a coconut smeared in turmeric is placed on top of the mango leaves.

Some traditions call in for tieing a face of amman on the coconut and placing a blouse piece [red or green] on top and tying a small amman pavadai to the kalasam.

After keeping the Kalasam, offer neivedhyam and start doing pooja.

  • The Fourth step is for the enlightened souls like Azhwars, Nayanmars, Shankarachariyar, Ragavendra, Saibaba, Saints and Siddhars.
Kannappa Nayanar Set

  • The Fifth step is dedicated to those who contributed for the society. It is for people like freedom fighters, great leaders, philosophers, philantropists etc like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda etc
  • The Sixth and Seventh steps is for normal human beings, temple scene, village scene, farming, wedding scene etc. In honor of traders' community, every golu has a  Chettiyar set which has Chettiyar and his wife selling sugar, salt, dals, rice, vegetables, fruits and other commodities.
  • The Eighth and Ninth steps are for the animals, birds, crawling insects, fish, plants etc.

It is believed that every soul has to pass through these 9 steps to attain mukthi from the cycle of rebirth.

Note: These photos are the golu photos from my home clicked during different years.

For the Golu

Friends and relatives are invited to visit the golu. Women and girls sing hymns and songs in front of the golu. Special neivedhyams like sundal and sweets like payasam, sakkarai pongal etc are made and offered to the gods. After the aarthi the neivedhyam is distributed to the guests as prasad along with some gift bags. The gift bag usually consists of kum kum, manjal, betel leaf, banana and a small gift. Each day, throughout Navaratri, two neivedhyams – one in the morning [any sweet] and one in the evening [sundal] has to be offered during the prayer. If you are not able to make neivedhyam at least fresh milk or fruits have to offered.

On the 9th day Saraswathi Pooja is celebrated, books and musical instruments are placed in the pooja and worshipped. Even tools are placed in the pooja as a part of “Aayudha Pooja”, vehicles are washed and machines cleaned and poojas performed for the wealth and prosperity of everyone.

The 10th day, is “Vijayadasami” which marks victory; a new and prosperous beginning of everything in every one’s life. 

When and How to Remove/Dismantle the Golu ?

  • On the evening of Vijayadasami – 10th day after navarathri , we offer neivedhyam like fruits and prayers are done. After which the kalasam is symbolically shifted towards the North direction. One doll is put lying down as if it is put to sleep.

  • The golu dolls can then be removed the next day and packed carefully for the next year. Similarly the golu padi can also be dismantled and packed as well.
  • Do not start removing the golu dolls on vijayadasami.
  • Tuesdays and Fridays are considered inauspicious to remove the Golu dolls. If the day after Dasami falls on Friday or Tuesday then the golu is removed on the evening of Dasami itself.
  •  In that case make neivedhyam in the morning [on Dasami] and then put one doll to sleep till the evening. Then remove the golu dolls and dismantle the golu padi and pack everything safely for the next year.

Removing the Kalasam

The rice kept in the plate under the kalasam can be used for making payasam, pongal etc. The coconut can be used for making a sweet.

The water inside the kalasam should be sprinkled on all family members and around the house.

Pour the remaining kalasam water into the tulasi plant or in the garden for the trees. Do not pour the water in the skink or bathroom.

Sundal Varieties 

White Chickpea Sundal/Kondakadalai Sundal

Black Chickpea Sundal/Karuppu Kondakadalai Sundal

WhiteChickpea Masala Sundal/Kondakadalai Masala Sundal

BlackEyed Bean Sundal/Kaaramani Sundal

MoongDal Sundal/Paasi Paruppu Sundal

ChanaDal Sundal/Kadalai Paruppu Sundal

SweetCorn Sundal

GreenGram Sundal/Pachai Payaru Sundal

HorseGram Sundal/Kollu Sundal

PeanutSundal/Verkadalai Sundal

Vadai Varieties

Please click on this link for different types of PAYASAM VARIETIES


If you are not able to keep golu for all the 9 days, you can keep the golu for the last three days.

Each year a new doll is purchased and added to the golu collection.

Traditionally the kalasam is kept in the golu padi, but you can keep the kalasam infront of the golu padi also. It will be easy to offer new flowers and do the prayers for the kalasam.

I believe and hope that this blog post will be really useful for those who are newly keeping golu. For neivedhyams like Sundal Varieties, Payasam Varieties, Sweet Varieties for Navaratri/Golu Pandigai click here.

For the quick links -  for Navaratri/Golu Recipes please click this link

Wishing you all a very Happy Navaratri…

Other golu photos in my house....

Shivan Kailayam set

Birth of River Kaveri


Other interesting writeups that might be of your interest…

Varalakshmi Nombu Procedure/Varalakshmi Nombu –Pooja Procedure/Keeping Kalasam/how to do Varalakshmi Nombu with step by step photos

Pongal Festival – a detailed write up with Recipes

Vinayagar Chathurthi

Tamil New Year’s Day

Gokulashtami/Krishna Jayanthi Recipes

Navaratri Neivedhyam Recipes

Valaikappu/Seemandham Recipes

 Thank you all for visiting my space, please come back again for more and more delightful recipes from my kitchen.

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Have a great day and enjoy.

Until then I am signing off…






  1. Hi, I was not able to keep 2021 Golu from beginning. Can I keep it on sapthami day, which is on a Tuesday please suggest?

  2. Hi Thyagu,
    Thanks a lot for contacting me, yes of course you can keep golu on tuesday, you keep the padi and arrange dolls on monday evening and start the pooja from Tuesday morning.
    Wish you and your family a very Happy Navaratri...
    Pls keep visiting Priyasvirundhu for more delicious recipes and keep supporting us
    Thanks and Regards
    Priya Anandakumar


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