“Inviting Prosperity Home during Pommai Kolu”

1/24/2017 4:30 PM

“Inviting Prosperity Home during Pommai Kolu”


South Asia Seminar Series presents:

Deeksha Sivakumar

PhD Candidate, West and South Asian Religions, Emory University


“Inviting Prosperity Home during Pommai Kolu”

Date: Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Time: 4:30pm
Venue: Callaway S-221, Emory University


Pommai kolu [lit: “court of dolls”] was assembled by Brahmin women in their homes for Nāvarātri. Today they are made by Brahmins and non-Brahmins, women and men and take place in domestic or public venues. While I discuss these ritual innovations in my dissertation, this paper will focus on Brahmin women as they navigate their home as a site for the performance of pommai kolu. Feminine possessions, like valuable dolls, lamps and pots are cherished and accumulated across generations while moving from natal homes during marriage. These materials are then displayed for the ten days of pommai kolu, showcasing the householder’s personal aesthetic taste and allowing her the creative license to dress-up the ritual space. This paper finds that women’s materials are archived during kolu, preserving their prosperous life histories and their community’s heritage. Guests to the pommai kolu are as important as the householders, and every effort is made to provide adequate hospitality such as musical entertainment, snacks, and thoughtful gifts. Many women also invite well-known and influential neighborhood cumaṅkali (auspicious married women) and their daughters to their homes attempting to grow their social networks. This paper discloses how Brahmin female householders create prosperity for their families, utilizing the dolls and dioramas during pommai kolu as a visual podium for identity formation.


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