How to perform Navratri Puja at home

Navratri festival


Navratri is celebrated for nine days after Mahalaya Amavasaya.  How  I celebrate this festival -

The first day after Amavasaya  called Padava arrangement is made for display of dolls called kolu.  The number of steps should be in odd numbers i.e 3,5,7 or 9. For those who are not aware 'kolu' is the arrangement of dolls during the festival of Navaratri that is celebrated for nine days.  The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadasami (Vijay means victory and dasami means the tenth day - after new moon day in case of Navaratri).   It is thought that Vijayadasami is very auspicious and hence many new ventures particularly education from Aksharabhyas to admission in play schools is done on this day.  The usual practice is to have odd number of steps for kolu starting from 3 to usually 7 or 9.  The area around the kolu is decorated with miniature parks, zoo etc.  It depends upon one's imagination .  It is customary to draw beautiful rangolis for the kolu and  I have drawn some  in Rangolisansdots

Navaratri is a festival celebrated for nine days.  Three days are dedicated to Goddess Durga,  three days for Goddess Lakshmi and the last three days for Goddess Saraswathi.  Our family tradition is preparation of sweets in the morning and sundal in the evening. Each day we prepare a different sundal and  hence nine different types for nine days.  This is the tradition in many South Indian homes.   Sundal is distributed to  neighbours and children who come to have a look  at  the kolu.

Navartri is an important season for celebration particularly in Tamil Nadu.  It is considered one of the most important festivals for women.  Since it is celebrated for nine days talent of women in art, music, decorations, cooking and many other areas are brought out.  There is competition among neighbours for display of kolus.  There is competition for displaying talent in cooking sundal etc.   and for course for drawing rangolis before the kolu.  Obviously, I should confine myself to rangolis in Rangoli-sans-dots.

How to decorate khalasam for Navratri


Limestone mixed in water is applied around the neck of the kalasam.  Then sandal paste, kumkum are applied on the four sides. The kalasam filled with water in which a little kumkum is mixed. Mango leaves or betel leaves are placed and at the centre any fruit like mosambi, pomegranate. Some families place coconut in the khalasam.   It is not moved for nine days.

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The kalasam is decorated with flowers and a cotton garland.

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How to light Akhanda deepam during Navratri



  • Some families have the tradition of lighting Akhanda Deepam or Nanda vilakku as it is called in Tamil during Navratri. 
  •  It is lit on the first day of Navratri and should continue to glow for 24 hours every day for nine days.  Pure gingelly oil is used by many. 
  •  Some use ghee ( nei deepam ) some use Mahua oil ( illuppai ennai ). 
  • The lamp is periodically filled up with oil or ghee so that it continues to glow. T
  • he lamp is lit on the first day of Navratri after performing puja with haldi (manjal ) kumkum, flowers, neivedhiyam (fruits) and completing with dhoopam and camphor aarthi with songs or mantras according to our family customs.  
  •  The lamp has a single wick. 
  • The lamp or deepam is lit with a nei dheepam or ghee diya and not with a match stick.
  • There is a tradition of lighting a lamp for Navratri kolu on all nine days both in the morning and in the evening.  
  • To ensure that the lamp does not flicker due to the wind or breeze, ready made lamp shades made from clay 

Of course, Navratri in Tamil Nadu and the different types of sundal, one for each day is also unique to Navratri celebrations (in southern part of India).


Navratri festival with kolu or display of dolls is popular in southern part of India. Dolls of deities, saints, leaders are displayed.  Dolls may also be displayed adopting various themes like a wedding, market and any other theme suitable.   This year I used  an artifical thoranam or toran representing mango leaves made from an OHP sheet and painted so that they resemble mango leaves.  This toran or festoon is fixed to the bottom of the kolu display.  Of course we use a natural thoran made from mango leaves at the entrance of the house.  Actually I make these simple craft or art items when ever I get time, store them and use them on suitable occasions.  Kolu for Navratri is one such occasion. 
This image below is from one of the sections of the kolu showing display of stock of food supplies by a provision merchant.  Though ready made dolls are available, I have tried this.  I used paper cups, cut them to reduce the size, then using a pair of scissors cut the rim of the cups and decorate them as shown and fill them with food items like rice, salt, dhall and spices.

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Among the decorations that can be done for the kolu, the special variety of rangoli, kundan rangoli is one of them that can be tried.  It is an important type of rangoli craft, I would say.  So, the kundan rangoli design in the image below for Navratri celebrations.  Kundan stones are usually mounted on OHP sheet.  We have make motifs with OHP sheet according to our imagination.  Decorate them with kundan or glass beads and colourful tape or metallic chains to get the required design. Apart from regular and kundan rangoli design, a rangoli on water also called floating rangoli (! ).  It is a design drawn on water. Since it is difficult to draw a rangoli on water add rice flour to it and mix thoroughly.  The transparency of water reduces and the density increases. Now with regular rangoli  it is possible to draw a rangoli on water.     

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