Madurai: It's Navratri, and the festival is at its colourful best in the Meenakshi temple in Madurai.
The tradition of golu signifies that every home is a temple but for the people of Madurai, the temple itself is home, and it is there that they begin their golu arrangement.
Every year lakhs of people visit the Meenakshi temple to catch a glimpse of the mother of all golu arrangements. Beginning with a serial lights display of the chief gods above the temple tank, an entire section of the inner sanctum is graced by figurines of every shape size from Indian mythology.
“This is a 3,200-year-old tradition popularised by all the succeeding monarchs,” the chief priest of the temple said.
Every single doll in the arrangement comes from a home in Madurai.
“I don’t have a golu arrangement at home. I do it only at the temple,” a regular at the temple said.
While another person said, “I have been coming for the golu from my childhood.”
For those who came in late, the golu in Madurai is not a random display of dolls. Dolls of the chief gods come first, then an arrangement that charts their stories, and finally, the village deities.
But the cutest doll in the arrangement is the 'Utsav' or festival idol of the mother Meenakshi, the resident deity of Madurai herself, flanked by her royal fleet of rides, decked in silver and gold.
The people of Madurai believe that lord Shiva came down the steps of a tank near the temple to bring his devotee back to life, and mother Meenakshi fed the poet, Tirunyanasambandar, the milk of wisdom.
Tradition and mythology come full circle in this temple on Navratri.