Nina: Was the sundal delicious enough for you, Ambu mami?
Ambujam: Yes, of course. Did you know that there are also different types of sundal?
Nina: Really? What are they?
Ambujam: The traditional sundal varieties are made from chickpeas, channadal, peanut, moongdal, Green gram dal, karamani (cowpeas), mochai (field beans), dry Green peas (Pattani), Sweet Corn and Navratna sundal. All of them are protein rich and a healthy snack for your body.
Nina: Did you hear that Nana? You should starting eating sundal everyday then, instead of the kachoris that you eat every evening with your chai.
Nana: (hastily changing the subject) Ambu mami, are there any other Golu traditions that you haven’t told us yet?
Ambujam: Well, there are a few more.
Golu is a symbolic representation of the evolution of life and the display would usually reflect that in how the figurines are arranged. The figurines/dolls are usually placed in a cascading flow of preconstructed steps. The number of steps for display are auspiciously placed in odd numbers such as 3,5,7,9, 11 and more, depending on the grandiosity of the display.
Most households construct a nine tier display keeping with the theme of Navrathri or nine nights. Since the Golu is a visual depiction of evolution as described in mythology, the highest beings, namely the creators or the Gods are placed in the top three tiers. The next 3 tiers are devoted to better evolved beings, grama devattas (minor gods/goddesses) and rishis (saints). The last 3 tiers showcase everything ranging from weddings, social/cultural lives in villages, markets, shops or other stories from mythology such as Gajendra moksha (How Lord Vishnu saved an elephant from a crocodile), the story of Kannappa nayanar, how lady Andal married Ranganatha swamy as per the srivaishnava tradition and so on. Lady Andal is regarded as the epitome of bhakti in south India just as Mirabai is in the northern part of the country. Another special feature is how most golus showcase a chettiyar shop selling essential groceries in the last tier.
Nina: Awwww, this is sooooooooooooooooooooooo interesting. Can you share some pics with us from your Golu?
Ambujam: Sure. I visited Lavanya’s Golu last year and here are some samples.
Nana: I have to say, Nina – you did good this Navrathri by inviting Ambu mami. Her Golu tales were a lot more interesting than what you keep jabbering about all the time. Thanks, Ambu mami for the visit and maybe, we’ll visit you next year, hopefully in a post covid era.
Sources: Hindu puranas and of course, the all knowing wikipedia.
Nina, Nana, Ambu Mami and other fictional characters in The Lav Muse World look forward to bringing you a trove of mythology themed posts and folk lore around Navrathri and Durga Puja this October in partnership with Kanika, Jayanthi and Suhasini.
Read the earlier Ambu mami detective fiction episodes in the below links: