Idol worship started in India somewhere in the Puranic times. Vedas talk about several divine forces such as Adityas, rudras, vasus, Vishnu, Purusha, Amba etc., that guide and evolve the Universe and its intelligence. During Vedic times, these divine forces were only extolled.
Such divine forces were extolled, not to ‘worship’ them, but to invoke their power in us, so that we evolve further in intelligence.
Small Idols were made as a representation of ’divine’ forces and the divinity of these forces extolled to invoke their power in us. Such idol representations gained ground and soon morphed to current day’s idol worship, where idols became important and their ‘divine’ force representation was lost.
To put in short, idols in themselves do not have any power in them, in the Hindu religion. It is the invocation of a ‘divine’ force or multiple ‘divine’ forces in these idols that brings the ‘power’ to them.
In other words when we worship an idol, we are not worshiping the idol itself, but the divine force represented in the idol. Again worshiping an idol is to invoke the power of divinity in us.
During these nine days and nights, it is said that divine forces visit the planet earth. Multiple idols are kept in ‘Golu’ to capture the divine forces and make them available at home, was one of the basic concept of ‘Golu’ festival, in which idols are stacked and kept all these nine days and nights. Since these divine forces reside in these idols for nine days, it is assumed that the home that hosts these idols become blessed.
Though it may appear a taboo that divine forces can be captured in idols, it has been a practice for several centuries now. Though at the risk of being branded superstitious, I have seen a co-incidence of families that stopped celebrating Golu incurring hardships and families that revived it get rid of their woes.
So I would not comment on it, though it appears a bit illogical at this point of time.
Common sense may say that divine forces need not rest in idols or objects. Hence there is no need for idol worship. But if we keenly look around, there is an exemplary logic in it.
By keeping the representation of divine forces in an external object such as idol, the divinity of the object can be shared and spread amongst a bigger lot of population. It is no longer personal.
Once such a centralized representation is made, it is easier to invoke that divine power in us, as so many people are doing the same. After all man is a social animal and centralizing the divine representation in an idol helps human beings invoke that divine force in them, using this social characteristics of human beings.
In general we human being tend to follow the common way. Hence invoking these powers in us when everyone else does it should be much easier for us. This is the basis of idol worship.
This also works for Navarathri Golu, whether divine forces stay in the idols or not. The networking and strengthening of relationship that happens here along with positive vibes that are produced definitely make a home blessed.
So I would strongly recommend one to start or continue this practice, as it has a very important role in Hindu religion, irrespective of caste or creed.
Above are some pictures of our Golu this time.