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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Navaratri Kolu at Home

For the last three years, the focal point of our Navaratri Kolu has been Samhith's train set. Our entire decoration is arranged around the track, and o0ur tunnel last year was a huge hit with all the kids! It was no surprise therefore that Samhith wanted a tunnel this year too! With the idea of giving you all something different to look forward to, we have set up a village this year around the Kolu steps. Without more ado, let me invite you into our home for our kolu....

This is what you see as soon as you step in...

On the right is a small arrangement we couldnt find place for, anywhere else! This shows the 6 Krittika kanyas with babies in their hands - this relates to the story of Lord Muruga's birth. Story will come up later! Behind it is a beautiful tree which has come all the way from Germany! 

The sides of the steps are covered with Samhith's drawings from school...

Come, take a closer look at the steps... Here are the top two....
The top step has idols of Krishna and his friends breaking a pot of butter, followed by the Kalasam (a pot of water with mango leaves and a coconut placed at its mouth - in our house, this is symbolically represented by a decorated pot), and a set of marapacchi - wooden dolls representing couples.

The second step shows a Satyanarayana Puja in progress...

The third step has dolls showing a woman completing her Santoshi Mata Vrat, by feeding women and children... and the fourth step shows women performing Deepa puja or Vilakku puja (praying to a lamp)

The fifth step has an assortment of Ganesha figurines, most of them playing different instruments... while the sixth step shows a couple performing the Pongal or Sankranti Puja (on the right) in front of their house. On the left are idols of various gods.

The seventh step has another Marapacchi set as its central figure surrounded by a fruit shop with various fruits on display on the right and various decorative items on the left. And yes, that is a cycle behind! The bottom of the steps has a tunnel.. yes, for the train to come through!

Here is one view of the village arrangement....

and here is another....

Lets take a closer look.... Bottom right are fields with animals grazing, and small houses around. Most of these houses were made of paper...

Bottom left is a cricket game in progress... the fields and the cricket ground are separated by a row of palms.

Top left are more fields, a bigger house, a temple (made from a cardboard box), the road, and also a loading station...

The space between the road and the railway track have been occupied by vendors selling all sorts of things.. a small market... Take a closer look..

This is the latest addition to Samhith's Thomas the Tank Engine train set - Colin the Crane who works at the loading station!

and here is a tiny bicycle I made this year...

Right, centre is the other end of the tunnel, a view of the mountains, a small temple (made entirely out of blocks by Samhith), a well, a field ( a gift from Samhith's friend) and a windmill...

Here is a closer look at the field complete with a scarecrow! Kids these days are really creative, arent they? And you can also take a closer look at the well... the pulley actually has a bucket attached, and it works! 

And here is a closer look at Samhith's temple..

Right at the top, there is a farmhouse on the right, a giant wheel, another field (whole moong grown at home),

and another farmhouse made by Samhith with his blocks.

Here is a bit of detail.... a railway crossing! It took a bit of effort,  but the railway crossing actually works!

and finally, one last look at the village at floor level!

The kolu took us about a whole day to set up, after three full days of preparation, a week of serious thinking, and months of discussion! And all that effort seems to have paid off, thanks to so many people - apart from everyone at home, who pitched in, in their own ways, my aunt who shared her toys with us, Samhith's friends who helped us out, and everyone who gave us stuff which makes the entire scene look real! Thanks so much, everyone!


  1. What an elaborate arrangement. I am sure Samhith and you would have enjoyed doing this a lot.

  2. Wow ...what an elaborate work !!
    Happy times :)


  4. Wow! Simply amazing! The images do speak for all the efforts that must have gone into this! My favorite is the temple made by
    Samhith, a brilliant architect he is :) Thanks so much for inviting us in Anu and Happy Festival Greetings :)

  5. Oh my my! I am literally speechless seeing all this and all those little things done in detail!
    Wow! fantastic and kudos to you and your son who is being groomed wonderfully well by you!
    Wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous Dasara!

  6. Thanks Kanthi! so, when are u coming???

  7. Thanks so much, Arti! Samhith is going to be thrilled when he hears this!! and wish u too the same!

  8. Thanks so much, Santosh! wish you too the same!

  9. Love it....gosh i wish i cld be close to you for inspiration!!
    Please tell S, that he must have extra sundal for all that :)

  10. Last year my sister (aged 64) at Chennai was boasting about her Kolu. Perhaps that was one of the best in their locality. If she could see this, she may decide to commit suicide. Congrats Samhit and to you as well.

  11. I have become like a child exploring every inch of the golu and the awesome park!  I was waiting for this :)
    I am very proud of samhith and ur efforts. So many tracks, i was figuring out whether the train can make a complete round on its own :P lovely :) great going ! :)

  12. Took me right back to my childhood in Nagpur, when we used to have such elaborate kolu with dolls and people made with cardboard and crepe paper. This was really wonderful with Samhith being the main architect! He must be really proud of his handiwork. When looked from far, all the details are not seen. Thanks for giving us a tour of the close-ups :)

  13. Anu, from yesterdday I was trying to post a comment here. The mess. I get is 'please wait'... and I waited for good 15 mts to get this opened. 
    When I think abt Navarathri, your blog comes to my mind. there is a lot to see here. Lot of efforts go in setting up the Golu. Love this work of your's and Samhith's . Great going....Happy Navarathri wishes to all your family.

  14. Very colorful presentation. Lovely!

  15. it is mind blowing and interesting as well

  16. Thanks Sowmya! if we were in the same place, i could arrange the kolu with the theme of a story, and u could come over for a storytelling session!! we could have such fun! and S doesnt really like sundal that much :(

  17. Thanks so much, but dont u think thats a bit extreme? :) we all like our own efforts and tend to think of them as greater than they actually are!

  18. Thanks so much!! hopefully will post a video of the train sooN!

  19. Thanks so much, Zephyr! he is totally chuffed!! and prouder every time someone praises his work!!!

  20. Thanks so much chitra.. as much for the perseverance as well as the comment!

  21. Great theme and min blowing arrangement....The whole village scene is so lively. Kudos to you and your family for putting up this wonderful golu. One of the best golus I have seen. Way to go Anu. My special wishes to dear Samhith.

  22. Amazing Anu..u and samith have done such a fab job. Wish, we could visit your place and see this, my kids loved this so much that they want me to right way create this beautiful Kolu for them:) Happy navratri..

  23. Hi Deepa...

    Amazing! Mind blowing golu!!!!

  24. Superb arrangement..and clear pics n description..Loved the idea of putting ur kid's coloring pics on the sides...Im gonna steal this..;-)

  25. Thanks a lot, Shobhana! glad to have been of help! and besides, the idea isnt originally mine either! and golus are probably the one case where pilfering ideas is perfectly fine!

  26. Very very thanks to you.I become very happy to see this site.It gives us very informative too.
    Spiritual Comic Books


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