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Navarathri 2017 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 06,2017  IST


It is immensely delightful and humbling to describe the Navarathri Golu celebrations at our home in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Navarathri is a wonderful time for joyous get-togethers and divine reflections. In the recent few decades, the festival has evolved from a purely religious worship to encompass and embrace themes more social, ethnic, cultural and moral, reinforcing the concept that the divine can be found in things living and non-living if only one opens up the heart. 

Our theme this year was “Celestial and Human Weddings” – focusing on the commonalities and differences between the two wedlocks. God leads by example and the heavenly weddings promulgate the ground rules and essentials for a successful union of men and women in the world. This thematic set-up flanking the main pedestal features dolls depicting the weddings of Lord Vinayaga with Siddhi and Buddhi, Lord Shiva and Meenakshi, Lord Muruga and Valli, Lord Srinivasa and Goddess Lakshmi and of the divine incarnate Deities Rama and Krishna. On the human side, we display a full cycle of wedding and associated events starting with the Engagement, Janavasam, Garland exchange, Marriage, Reception, Feast followed by Baby Shower, Ear Piercing, Upanayanam and culminating with the 60th wedding. 

A thankful upgrade from our golu from previous years was a custom-made 9-step pedestal with 10 feet wide steps. This allowed us to dedicate each step to different manifestations of the divine. The top steps were adorned with large dolls representing Vinayaga, Shiva, Perumal, Devi, Muruga and the usual ones such as Kubera Set, Ashtalakshmi, Dasavathara sets. One step each focused on Rama and Krishna, where we displayed dolls depicting different events in the life of the divine incarnates. The “Rama” step showcased birth of Rama, His conquest of Tataka, His wedlock with Seetha, the liberation of Ahalya, Sabari and Jatayu, His friendship with Guha and Sugriva, His fondness of Hanuman, ending with his Crowning as the King of Ayodhya. For the Krishna step similarly, we displayed Krishna’s birth in the prison followed by  some unique doll sets showing the childhood and youthful Leelas of Krishna including His juvenile mischiefs as Yasoda’s son, His “Rasakreeda” with the Gopikas, the Conquest of Elephant (Kuvalaya Peetham), His love for Radha, Thulabaram set and Sammohana Krishna (depicting that unity and integrity of man and woman). Rounding off the bottom steps were dolls of Godmen and Saints followed by humans and living beings. Highlight new dolls included the Khumbakarna set (the sleeping giant from Ramayana) and Gadodkacha (the glutton from Mahabaratha). In addition, the bottom most step featured dolls depicting interesting stories (Aesop and Panchatantra tales) with morals – including the “Hare/Tortoise race story”, “Rabbit-Lion” story, “Monkeys and caprs” story. On the other side of the pedestal, we had a snowy “North Pole” set up with the brand new and brilliant “Eskimo Set” replete with Igloos, Sleighs, Reindeer, Polar bears and Ice boats.  

As always, we had over 300 visitors all through the celebrations. This year, a group of “Girl Scout” students paid a visit to our Golu and spent time learning about our rich culture, heritage and the significance of the Golu display. Our kids, 9-year old Rasika and 4-year old Rakshith had a fun-filled 10 days enjoying the great tradition, friendly visits and sumptuous food. The evenings were wonderfully spent with chanting of sahasranama, enchanting music by family members and visitors, and exchange of greetings. As we wind down on this year’s celebrations, we look forward to coming back with renewed fervor and vigor with another new and interesting theme next year. We thank the Almighty God for his choicest blessings that made the Golu what it turned out to be. 

- Uma Sivakumar from Pheledelfia 

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