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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Navaratri 2009 - our Bommai Kolu

The most anticipated festival of the year is here at last, and we are all done with the preparations, and ready to make the most of the celebrations during the next nine days. Mornings are busy with all the work involved, but evenings are something to look forward to, with people coming home to look at our Bommai Kolu, and us visiting others’ houses for the same reason. The day ends with a visit to our local temple, where the celebrations are held on a grand scale, the highlight being a decorated tableau depicted some form of the Devi, either illustrating a story about her, or showing one of her many forms. Come; join me as I take you along with me through the navaratri festivities in my neighbourhood…..

We have worked long and hard for arranging our Bommai Kolu this year, a proceeding that was even more interesting, considering that we haven’t been able to celebrate any festival for the last two years. Here are the final results of all our hard work!

Here's the complete Kolu....

Take a closer look......

Take a closer look at some of the dolls......

The marapacchi..... The set on the right is a gift from my mom and aunt this year.... beautiful, aren't they??

Some of the gods and goddesses.....

Here's Shrek's son driving a cart full of sacks of grain!!

These are all wooden toys technically belonging to Samhith!

And here is the best part of our kolu - the arrangement for which we put in a whole lot of effort!

This is the first part - the city with the airport....

And here is the village with a jungle behind.....

And here's the railway line over the mountain which connects the two....

Take a closer look at the village.......right in front is the railway station....

and here is the village temple, built in the Kerala style by Samhith.... note the small Ganesha temple outside with a real idol inside.....

Here are more of Samhith's creations : a garden for the city......

...and another house, also for the city...

Here is the cliff overhanging the sea.. with sea creatures in it.....

And finally, here is Thomas the Tank Engine chugging along the mountain railway line.....

The preparations for this Kolu took ages, and led me to neglect most of my other duties, but the effort has been worth it! What do you think??????


  1. OH wow... simply superb!!! Both mom & son are super talented... Can you please ask Samhith to come help me or give me some tips now... :-)

  2. very nice golu.
    simply superb.congrats to sanhith and you for this wonderful idea.

  3. Really appreciate you and your son. I felt so good looking at those pictures. took me back to my child hood. I too have written a blog on Navarathri and kolu on wordpress. when you find time go through it.

  4. Patricia : Thanks so much!!!! both mom and son are thrilled with the appreciation, and would love to help you with whatever you need!!!!!

    Sandhya : thanks so much. .. samhith was thrilled!

    Chitra: thanks a lot! just went through your blog... god one!!!!

    ssstoryteller : thanks a lot..

  5. Kudos to the Mother and Son duo. I simply loved the railway line connecting the city and the village. Very creative and very nice. :)

  6. How I wish I had gone kolu-gazing with you! Wish I had the time! Had fun with yours tho and love the fact that a part of it is now at my place :P


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